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Sunday, March 8, 2015

PaleoJay's Smoothie Cafe #98 Get DOWN with your Bad Self!

PJSC 98  Get DOWN with your Bad Self

One of the simplest, most important, and yet most ignored ways to improve your health, posture, flexibility is simply to spend more time on the floor!

Think about it: the simple chair or couch is the most unnatural, non-paleo way to support your body.  It is taking a structure, and using it to support all  of your limbs and musculature, encouraging a slouch and long term weakening of all the small supporting muscles throughout the body and spine.  In particular, the muscles of the back and the butt are degraded the most over time- just look at most of our elderly population.  They walk hunched over, with a permanent slouch, and their flaccid butts cannot even lift their feet very well off the floor.

This doesn’t have to happen!  Simply resolve to spend an hour per day or so on the floor.  When I work out, about 1/3 of my exercise is spent on my mat on the floor, stretching, bridging, massaging my feet, doing straight legged sit ups, push ups, etc.  It is a mistake to always work out only in a standing position!

But, the bulk of your “floor time” can simply be hanging out, watching TV or reading, talking on the phone or to another person who is also on the floor!  It’s actually very “grounding” to be on the floor, and I don’t mean that only in the literal sense.  Being on the ground brings us back to when we were babies, before we even could get our selves off of the ground, or even roll over onto out backs!  But now, we need to maintain what we used to do effortlessly- do the Asian squat, as all toddlers do, to “sit” without a chair.  This is actually the very best “exercise” you can do on a daily basis- just squat down and “rest” in a full, flat footed squat on the floor- and it isn’t even really an exercise at all!  This is the very best stretch for your back and legs of any you can possibly do- do it daily.

But actually, any way you sit or crouch or relax on the floor is good, much better for you than just sitting on the chair or couch.  The transitions you make, moving from one floor position to another, and then when you stand,  getting up smoothly from the floor under your own power- these are wonderful for your overall bodily health, utterly natural and necessary, and are so often lost to people by middle age!

Walking is important, but even more important is simply sitting on the floor, and being able to get up to a standing position easily and gracefully.  To get up from a chair is like doing a squat down about a third of the way up- to get up from the floor is actually a rather complex, hinged motion involving the hand, arm, legs, hips, and back in a well coordinated and complex series of movements.  It is very important that we maintain our ability to do this throughout life!

Asians have a largely floor based culture, and they are the better for it!  When I was in Korea, I saw elderly folks get up from the floor after eating (this is how they traditionally dine) and they arose easily and smoothly.  Even young Westerners often need to be helped up!

The chair is a cast!  Think of it like that.  The more you use a cast, the weaker you become. Eyeglasses are casts, shoes are casts- weaker prescriptions make your eyes gradually stronger, walking barefoot strengthens your feet and ankles.  So strive to minimize using crutches of comfort to excess!  Start by sitting on the floor- get DOWN with your bad self!