Friday, April 22, 2011

Sit On It

I didn't write a post yesterday because I couldn't stand to sit behind my laptop one second longer than I absolutely had to. Nope, it's not my old-lady back problems that are acting up again. (In fact, I've been meaning to write a post about how that situation was resolved... so stay tuned.) Now it's my old-lady hip. Seriously, is there any way to feel more ancient than by complaining about YOUR HIP? Good lord, what's become of me?

But here's the deal -- my left hip had been hurting something fierce for the past week, and it got to the point where I was doing anything and everything to avoid sitting at my desk. You might recall from the post I linked to above that I have the most ergonomically correct set-up known to mankind, so my problems weren't related to that. There was nothing wrong with my chair or my desk or my laptop height. At first I tried to blame the situation on inheriting my dad's "bad hip genes" -- he has been having this exact same trouble for a year or so now. But he's also nearly three decades older than I am, so I knew it wasn't a good sign that I was already experiencing this pain in my thirties. The bad genes probably have something to do with my problem, but I have to accept part of the blame as well.

As silly as this might sound, I recently developed an admittedly quite unusual and NOT wise habit. I've been sitting cross-legged in my chair for at least a month. Yes, cross-legged. Like this dude (Marc Bolan, who was the lead singer of the British '70s band T Rex, may he rest in peace). But only without the groovy threads and shoes. (I'm always in sweatpants and a robe, comfy-like.)



I know sitting like a meditating Buddha can't be good for me, but for whatever reason, I started doing it and it stuck. So add up over 12 hours a day of sitting cross-legged for 4 weeks and tell me if you think your hip would revolt. If you don't think it would, then you're probably 18, and I hate you.

So now I'm worried that I've incurred permanent damage and am going to have to drag myself back to physical therapy. Therefore, I'm trying to avoid sitting in my normal chair as much as I can to see if that helps -- if my hip will forgive me for acting like I'm a five-year-old at story circle. And yes, of course, I've forced myself to give up the whole cross-legged thing when I do have to be in my chair (which is still several hours a day no matter what).

I told my friend JC about my predicament, and he forwarded me this totally depressing article from last weekend's New York Times magazine. I highly encourage you to read it. The gist is that sitting on our asses all the time is killing us. Literally taking years off of our lives. And no amount of exercise really helps to counteract all the sitting. Sweet.

After reading the article I tried to gauge how much time I spend sitting now versus when I worked for The Man. Bad news: I think I've been plopped down in front of my laptop significantly more in the past four years than I had been in Corporate America. My job now requires either sitting in a movie theater, sitting to watch a DVD, or sitting in front of my laptop to write. While I walk my dog every day for 10 minutes and putter around doing laundry or getting snacks from the fridge every few hours, there's no more walking 20 minutes to and from the El stop each morning and evening. There's no going to conference rooms, stopping by someone's desk, going out to lunch, going over to another building for a meeting -- none of that. It's all about sitting -- sitting to watch or sitting to write.

Chances are I will not be able to convince my husband to get rid of our kitchen table and let me get the treadmill-desk set-up pictured above. (I honest-to-god would buy that if we had the room.) So I think I'm going to have to make a conscious effort to 1) resist the urge to sit cross-legged, 2) get up and move around at least once an hour, even if only for a minute or two, and 3) make use of this crazy gizmo I bought four years ago that's been mostly idle ever since:


Yes, it's a mini stair-stepper. It's been collecting dust in between my desk and the wall, even though it would be very simple for me to jump on it and start pumping those legs any time I receive a call or just need a break.

I'm also hopeful that with the eventual arrival of spring (hurry up, spring!) I'll just naturally start moving around more because I'm always inclined to go take a long walk whenever it's nice out.

And with that, I'm off to start my weekend of Not Sitting. Happy Easter to you and yours!

- e

4 comments:

MommaLove said...

Hi Erika! I can relate... I work from home now too, instead of in the "real world"! While it has amazing perks to be in my work jammies most of the time, I try to get up at least once an hour and walk around... well, at least in my intentions I do - doesn't always happen - ha! Maybe we should invent some kind of buzzer connected to our chair seats that would remind us it's time to "move it - move it"!! Let's hope you're right about spring and it will motivate us - I don't have much energy when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground and it's 10 degrees! Have a wonderful holiday weekend and Happy Easter to you too!

MommaLove said...

Hi Erika! I can relate... I work from home now too, instead of in the "real world"! While it has amazing perks to be in my work jammies most of the time, I try to get up at least once an hour and walk around... well, at least in my intentions I do - doesn't always happen - ha! Maybe we should invent some kind of buzzer connected to our chair seats that would remind us it's time to "move it - move it"!! Let's hope you're right about spring and it will motivate us - I don't have much energy when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground and it's 10 degrees! Have a wonderful holiday weekend and Happy Easter to you too!

Julie said...

I am sitting cross legged in my chair as I am reading this post. Only thing is, I never realized I was actually doing it until I read about you doing it and noticed myself doing it..

Anyways, I have sore hips as well because of the way I walk and carry my weight. I walk a little more on the outsides of my feet, I hate wearing my orthodics, which is probably a bad thing, but I find they made my feet sore. I started going to yoga class once a week and I couldn't believe the difference it was making. My hips feel so good afterward and it has also helped my posture and the way I walk. If you have time I suggest you give it a try.

e said...

MommaLove -- I like the buzzer idea -- you should pitch that product, you'll probably become a millionaire!
(But then you'll have to give me one for free... you know, for the inspiration.) : )


Julie -- So many people have suggested I try yoga, but I'm just NOT a group class person at all, and haven't had time to find a DVD and try anything at home. I'm not against it by any means, just hasn't been the priority I guess. But maybe one of these days I will get around to it...

- e