How sitting on the floor can extend the life of your joints

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How sitting on the floor can extend the life of your joints

Modern medicine has many incredible benefits that are too long to list in this article. However, in some respects, through this process, modern medicine has also our approach to movement, injury rehabilitation and prevention under that same microscope, and therefore missing out the wider picture.

Improving movement, becoming more mobile, increasing flexibility, being less stiff, these are rarely issues that can be solved by doing 10 minutes of stretches a day or a 2 hours of yoga a week. The human body responds to a simple principle, the SAID principle. The SAID principle is short for ‘Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand’. This means that the human body will adapt to whatever demand or lack of demand that is placed upon it.

So what does this mean for managing your low back pain or any other injury?

It means that reducing the chance of injury, which is significantly linked to a persons movement ability, requires frank lifestyle changes and honest reflection of how we live our lives on a daily basis.

All humans and all cultures throughout our evolution as a species, have spent time on the ground in variations of squatting, sitting cross legged and kneeling, when resting, socializing and working. To understand how we are supposed to move or our capacity to move, watch how a baby or a toddler moves. See the ease with which they can sit in a squat position, bend down to pick things up or sit on the floor, it is obvious that we are born to move. Our ancestors lived in these basic floor postures until we created the comforts of modernity, and it can be argued that these modern comforts have led down the slippery slope towards gradual dis-ease in both form and function, we can say that we have physically devolved, not evolved.

These floor positions (pictured above) are referred to as ‘Archetypal Postures’. These postures are fundamental aspects to how humans should live their lives. These positions regularly expose the hips, ankles, feet, spine and knees to full and varied ranges of motion that help to ensure maintenance of good joint range of motion, tissue health and joint longevity. Anecdotally, patients who I treat who have the greatest chance of injury and most difficult recovery are often unable to sit comfortably in these floor positions. This is a worldwide phenom, and it is easy to understand why our bodies have become so dysfunctional.

Let’s take a daily example of the average person in the developed world. IWe rise out of an elevated bed, from sitting to standing we stand up to go the toilet that is again elevated, presenting that seated position. Breakfast is eaten either standing or sitting in a chair; transport to work is seated whilst driving or on public transport; work is generally done either sitting or standing; ‘I go to the gym through…!’, however, how many of the exercise done are based on machines that allow people to sit and exercise or lying down or standing? After sitting or standing all day, we return home whilst driving or sitting in our cars or on public transport to sit for dinner, followed by more sitting in front of the television on a couch in roughly the same position that we have existed in throughout the entirety of our day. Most people, day after day, fail to make any transition from the standing to the floor, failing to place the musculoskeletal and fascial system through a full range of movement thus compromising biomechanical function.

Utilizing a floor based lifestyle, provides long term, sustainable benefits that do not require a specific moment in the day where you need to go and do your exercises. This is our evolution Instead of sitting on a chair or couch while watching television, transition to sitting on the floor. Floor sitting encourages normal movement patterns across the biggest joints and muscles of the biomechanical system. Archetypal postures are also valuable to use in a post-exercise setting, as the body finds the usual 30-second calf stretch to be an insignificant task of little benefit after running up a hill for the last 30-minutes. Returning to the floor in various archetypal postures will reestablish fundamental relationships between muscle compartments as they cool and set. After exercise go back to the floor as people have always done.

Give the positions above a try. If you have any pain, difficulty or restriction in getting into any of these postures, then please come and see us at the clinic!


Kris R.


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