Glidewalking and the Unfortunate Effects of Sitting

Much has been made of the detrimental effects of sitting too much. As I see it, when we sit for excessive amounts of time, especially if we sit in a rounded, hunched over posture, certain muscles basically go offline. When this happens, certain other muscles are compelled to step up to give us stability.

Specifically, when we sit in a rounded posture, the low back muscles – the erectors and multifidus muscles, as well as the gluteal muscles, just stop firing as much. They lose their tone and their responsiveness. The psoas and iliacus muscles on the front side of the body tend to shorten and to overwork. These muscles are normally called into action when we need extra stability between the trunk and the legs, as when we are lifting, pushing, pulling, or reaching. If they become chronically tight because they are providing stability normally provided by the butt and back muscles, this can lead to some low back and sacroiliac pain.

Several solutions to this issue become evident. When you sit, sit up, with your back in a small arch, with shoulders back and down. When you stand, do the same. Avoid looking down excessively at your phone. There is a type of walking which I really like called “glidewalking,” a term from Esther Gokhale, a posture educator. You can check out Gokhale and glidewalking on YouTube. The essence of it is that as you walk, you let your back leg extend back enough that you feel a small grip in your buttocks as your gluteal muscles engage. This will really wake up this whole side of the postural complex. Esther Gokhale’s book, 8 Steps To A Pain Free Back is a beautiful book that talks about many aspects of posture. The pictures are beautiful and the discussion is very helpful.