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One of the most amazing books I've read about simple ways to correct the muscular imbalances that result from too much sitting is Pete Egoscue's Pain Free at Your PC [1]. His other book, Pain Free [2] is also extremely effective and informative.

The first part of Pain Free explains how muscular imbalances form and, most insightful to me, how every human body has the same design range of motion (with a few exceptions due to birth defects or disease), that is every human body is designed to have the same range of motion but muscular imbalances formed as the result of specific repeated activities (or lack of activity) impede that design range of motion. All of the exercises in the Egoscue Method require no special equipment, only simple things like a chair or a wall (which further convinced me that it's not a fad out to sell something). Highly recommend reading these books if you're interested in this topic.

1. https://www.amazon.com/Pain-Free-Revolutionary-Stopping-Chro...

2. https://www.amazon.com/Pain-Free-Your-PC-Computer/dp/0553380...




Isn't this obviously false? First, humans weren't designed at all. Second, the range of motion is often determined by bone structure, which no amount of muscle imbalance can affect. Check out squatting positions and how they're affected by the variety of hip joint shapes people have. Like this page: https://squatuniversity.com/2016/03/25/how-hip-anatomy-affec...


> First, humans weren't designed at all.

Oh come on. You know what he means.


It's not wrong to care about phrasing when that phrasing leads to wrong results. Anthropomorphising evolution as a designer is a classic mistake to make precisely because it causes us to make real mistakes. The parent post makes a big claim which is based entirely off a mistaken metaphor.


Even biologists and anatomists use the same language as shorthand when they know the audience understands what the shorthand means. It's just more convenient.


For people with back pain, for example, sitting incorrectly or for prolonged periods of time can cause certain muscle to not activate when they're supposed to. I recently went through physical therapy for this in which my range of motion was increased due to flexibility exercises. All humans have a "basic" range of motion, but your effective range of motion can in fact be affected by things such as sitting too much.

And you could argue humans were designed by evolution. I don't think the OP meant some alien in a garage sat down and just drew up what humans should be.


I'm not arguing against that, I'm arguing against "how every human body has the same design range of motion." I don't think that everyone achieves their potential range of motion equally well but I definitely also don't think everyone has the same potential range of motion.

The problem with calling us "designed" is that it makes it sound like we are all built to some universal specification. This is not true, but the parent post acts as if it is. Whatever evolution does (call it design if you must), it does not act particularly strongly to get all humans the same potential range of motion.


Hm. I'm not sure I agree. There aren't many humans that can just turn their necks around like an owl. It's not a range of motion that the human body is really capable of, so there may be some people who can twist their neck further than others, but we basically have the same range of motion or even potential same range of motion. In that respect, humans are "designed" to only have a certain range of motion, which kind of implies some sort of genetic specification. Otherwise if we did not have a mostly uniform range of motion (when taken as a whole) we'd have noodle people and owl people and people that could kick the back of their head or something. But we don't.


Did you view the link I provided in my first reply? I think it shows that there are substantial differences, enough to make a statement that we all have the same design range of motion either meaningless or wrong.

Edit: to illustrate why I think it's so wrong to make such a statment, let's consider one of its implications. If we all have the same design range of motion and all differences are caused my muscle imbalances, then when I see someone do something I can't do, I have to conclude that the difference is a muscle imbalance. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the difference most of the time, but I think it's clearly false to say that's the correct conclusion all of the time. So I would sometimes be wrongly concluding that muscle balances are my problem and might wrongly attempt motions that I'm incapable of or waste time on exercises that can't help.


> The problem with calling us "designed" is that it makes it sound like we are all built to some universal specification.

It's called DNA. We all share most of the same blueprint, and therefore, the same design.

You're problem with "designed" may be that it implies a "designer", i.e. a God. Whether you choose to believe such a concept makes no difference to this subject. There is no need to approve or deny such a thing in this conversation. The end result is the same.

Because we each have very similar DNA, we each have very similar bodies. There are clear differences with each individual, some of these differences come from differences in an individual's DNA, others come from the course of the individual's development. A person's range of motion is heavily dependent on the latter, especially when certain muscles are underutilized.


If you remove everything from every human body except the skeleton, you'll find that the joints of every skeleton have very similar (nearly identical) range of motion. When I say design range of motion I'm referring to the commonalities that all of our skeletons share. The human skeleton has two arms, two legs, a hip bone, a skull, a spine, hands, and feet. Each of those are connected by joints and all of the joints have a range of motion that is, for all intents and purposes, the same. (Again, excluding birth defects, post-birth accidents, etc.)

On top of the skeleton we add muscles and tissues and everything else, with the muscles doing the vast majority of the supporting work for the skeleton, i.e., for the most part, the muscles (and tendons) dictate the effective range of motion, i.e., what the skeleton is currently possible of doing. But muscles can be stretched and lengthened, or they can be neglected and become stiff like an old rubber band (e.g., from sitting in the same position for years on end). Stiff muscles restrict range of motion, preventing the skeleton (which, without the muscles, would be fully capable of achieving its design range of motion) from achieving the full range of motion.

Are we all built to some universal specification? That depends on how you define "built" and how you define "universal". Our cells "build us" and our DNA defines a specification. Humans do follow a general standard: between 4.5-6.5 feet tall, two legs, two arms, one head, bipedal motion, etc. There are no 3-foot, 8-arm humans (like an octopus) and no humans with a 8-foot nose (like an elephant).

There are plenty of factors that can affect what range of motion each of us will be able to achieve, including injuries, age, and lifestyle (you're not going to become a world-class runner sitting at a computer for 12 hours a day 7 days a week), but if you're a relatively healthy 20-50 year old, and you put in the time required, you can go from being extremely stiff and inflexible to doing splits and backflips.


> If you remove everything from every human body except the skeleton, you'll find that the joints of every skeleton have very similar (nearly identical) range of motion.

The link I provided in my first post did exactly that and came to the opposite conclusion - that there are differences in range of motion due to skeletal configuration that are significant in at least some activities. It wouldn't be the first time that a fitness blogger was wrong, but the images are pretty compelling.

I'm making a much weaker claim than you are arguing against. I'm making the claim that there are differences between people, and that these differences matter to our range of motion. Pointing out that there are universal generalities between people is not relevant to the discussion. On the other hand, you are making an incredibly strong claim: that there are no noticeable differences. You have provided no support for your much stronger claim.


The problem with articles like this is they're too long. I understand the problem (prolonged sitting is bad for me), and I don't want to read entire books. I, like most people, just need to know a single exercise. If you start telling me about a second one I could do, I just won't do anything.

Also, describing exercises in words or even static pictures is a bad idea. Just make a short (30 sec max) video, so I can just watch that and do it from now on.


The problem is there isn't a silver bullet "single exercise". Frankly if an article with 7 pictures is too long for you to invest in your health that is concerning. The video suggestion is a good one though I have a similar complaint about many videos in that they spend 5 minutes showing you what should take 10 seconds to demonstrate (not to mention ads).

I suggest you just look at the pictures. They are fairly self explanatory.


I did look at the pictures. I've read most of the article. It's well-written. However, all I remember now (3 hours later) is that there are a dozen of different exercises, and they're already fading in my memory. Even though I now know the problem, I don't quite know what I should do, and tomorrow I'll probably forget about it. A single exercise, even if not the best, is still better than nothing, and it's something that I could think about doing right now.

And I'm more health oriented than most people I know.

Maybe they should put TLDR at the top with the absolute minimum we should do.


do you typically remember everything you read without applying it? why not try practicing the exercises on a regular basis (say, 5-7 days / week) for a few weeks, using the article to remind you of the forms and technique, and then check back in regarding both your ability to recall, and anything else you are noticing from engaging in this practice?


Right now my goal is to "go on occasional walking breaks" as suggested by runamok below :) If you suggest one other thing that you believe everyone should do to revert sitting damage, I'll try to do it as well.


Fair enough. What I usually do is copy-pasta the whole thing to a word doc and try to get it down to one or two pages by deleting text and resizing images. Print the thing out and tape it somewhere noticeable (near the home TV?) until you have internalized them.

Probably the minimum you should do is go for occasional walking breaks.


Unfortunately, rewards only come with effort (well, ok, at least usually)




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