In her re-thinking of physical therapy through a Laban lens, Irmgard Bartenieff noted that “the basic activities of the body are lying, sitting, crawling, kneeling, standing, and walking.” In dealing with back and leg pain caused by a herniated disk, I had to re-thinkthe rhythm of my workday. Fortunately, I’m self-employed and work from home. However, like many people, I had become accustomed to sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. But during periods when my back problems were acute, I could not sit for any length of time comfortably.
I found a way to deal with back pain by drawing on the concept of exertion and recuperation. I began to intersperse periods of standing, walking, and lying into my sedentary workday. To stand and work, I set up a laptop on the kitchen counter. I took short breaks and walked figure 8s around the living room sofa. I also took breaks and simply lay down for a while. Varying the nature of activities across the day certainly aided in my eventual recovery.
The upright posture of homo sapiens presents many challenges. Degeneration of the spinal disks is one. As Bartenieff notes, “A disturbance of posture can be thought of as the introduction of unfavorable statics: some muscle groups being fixed in permanent contraction, others being left out of functioning. Since posture is seen as readiness to move, to change throughout the body, such fixedness of one or more groups of muscles interrupts or reduces readiness to change and thus has far reaching effects on all patterns of the arms, legs, and trunk.”
So, while I am glad you are reading this blog, don’t just sit there. Take a break. Stand, stretch, walk, kneel, crawl, or lie down. Change of any sort is recuperative!