Monday, July 7, 2014

Sit on this

I recently received an email from a dear friend.  The subject line was: husband's pain in the butt. I commiserated - aren't they all?  Turns out it was a misunderstanding, an apostrophe catastrophe if you will.  Her husband was having, not being, the pain. 


Her husband, you see, had planted his rear in a very expensive Herman Miller aeron chair, but was still having pain.  And being an expert in things ergonomic and butt-pain related, they wondered could I help?  Would I recommend a chair?

I was flummoxed.  If the cadillac of chairs wasn't cutting it, how was I supposed to help? Where do you go when a $1000 chair doesn't do the job?  What has society come to, when spending your mortgage payment on a chair doesn't guarantee a comfortable tushy? 

I decided to help him find a new chair.  Mostly because I'm a good person who likes helping others.  But also because I'm a cheap frugal person who likes buying other people's unwanted but very expensive and chic used chairs.

I want a (second-hand) Herman Miller Aeron!  Only the (second-hand) best for me!
After doing some research, I came up with some chair suggestions.

1. No Chair 
For serious, sitting is neither natural nor ideal.  Because we don't live in a gravity-less space, like space, we are subject to multiple forces.  There are forces from above, like the weight of and on your shoulders.  And forces from below, basically the earth pushing up against you.  How does an earthly body absorb and balance these forces?  With joints.  And discs. (and a chiropractor... but did I really need to point that out?) (also, that's my new job description: balancing forces from above and below since 2001.)
When you stand, you've got ankles, and knees and hips and muscles and so on, to help absorb these forces. When you take a load off and sit on your fanny, you've got... nothing.  All those forces are transmitted to your spine.  And your discs.  And your wallet, because you're gonna need a chiropractor, STAT.
BUT!  Check out the newest thing in the thrilling field of desks!  A bunch of former NASA researchers put their heads together and made this... a taller desk.  A standing desk!  Do your work standing!  Or better yet, standing and walking!  A treadmill workstation!
Or, just get up and walk around occasionally.  I mean, really.

2. Sit properly in your chair!
Your spine, like your women, should be curvy - and in all the right places!  The spine should curve in at the neck and low back, and gently out at the midback, to work like a spring and be able to absorb forces.  A flattened spine is rigid, and puts the discs out of their naturally curved and stacked position.  When you sit, a slight forward pelvic tilt will help maintain the lumbar curve.  A 'C' shaped spine looks awful, and causes a whole lotta trouble.  Perhaps, it is not the chair that is the problem, but the spine in it?  In other words, it's not Herman's fault you hurt if you slouch in his chair. Sit up straight like your Bubbie* told you. 

3. Alterna-sits
Remember when your Bubbie would smack you on the head and tell you to sit up straight and stop playing around in the chair?  No... just me?  (I may need therapy and also maybe this is why I became a chiropractor).  Well, perhaps Bubbie was wrong.  New and exciting things are happening in the thrilling field of Chairs.  Like uh, stools.  I've currently taken an interest in a Swopper, please don't judge me.  Isn't it adorable?  It moves, and I assume has a similar effect as sitting on a ball, with less of the comic relief of your colleagues falling off.

Too cute?  How about these?  The chair with the cut-outs is the HAG - awkward name, but unique design allowing one to sit forward or backward.  Next up is the verte, and i'll be honest, it TERRIFIES me!  What is that alien spine on the back?  The red "chair" is the Limbic... and I... from what I can tell it cups your thighs, and what... your bum goes in the space I guess?  No.  Just no. 

I sent off my research to my friend, and last I heard he was still parking his butt on my Aeron.  But, as luck would have it, I found someone selling brand new deeply discounted Haworth Zodys on Craigslist.  Sure, they probably 'fell off a truck'** somewhere, but what I don't know won't hurt my back. 

Just look at these beauties!  Breathable mesh back, comfy foam-padded seat, adjustable height, tilt and seat depth, lumbar support... what more could a girl ask for? (well, to be honest I could ask for arm rests that could be moved inward... but at half off retail I won't be picky!)

The truth is, our bodies are not designed to sit for hours at a time.  For example, I am designed to be sitting in a cave-chair with my babies while waiting for my husband to bring home the mastadon.  But times have changed and our lives have changed, if our spines have not.  We have options now, and that too can be overwhelming.  Makes me wonder if we should truly return to our roots for the ultimate in comfort:

* For the non-yiddushkeit, Bubbie = grandmother.
** I was assured that they did not fall off a truck, but were in fact surplus inventory.