Squat down and watch this talk!

It’s Thursday, which means there’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time seated in a chair this week; subsequently, you’re probably feeling a bit restless. Or worse, you’re feeling pain.
According to physical therapist Amy Selinger, who gave a TEDxUniversityofNevada talk in January, at least 80% of us will develop some kind of back pain during our lifetime, and at least 10% will have back pain that lasts three months or more.
It’s an especially frustrating statistic when you consider that it doesn’t have to be this way. Selinger notes that as babies, we instinctively do the right thing for our growing bodies: we squat. Squatting helps maintain flexibility and strength in our legs and pelvic floor.
Unfortunately, once we start school, we begin a pattern of movement that puts our bodies into jeopardy. We spend too much time seated in chairs, strengthening our spines while weakening the flexibility in our legs. As adults, we develop habits that limit our movement: We sleep on the same side of the bed, reach into our closets with the same arm or exercise using the same routine.
“We become stronger in the muscles that are already strong, better in the actions we are already good at,” Selinger says. “Instead of the variety of movements we had as young children we become adults who repeat movements.”
To help reverse these lifelong habits, Selinger recommends exercises that create harmony within our bodies. Instead of strengthening muscles that are already strong, she helps build up weaker muscles. This eventually helps those muscles communicate better with the brain to do the movement they’re asked to do.
She ends her talk with three pieces of practical advice to help readjust our bodies.
Engage your core: Reintroduce your brain to your abdominal muscles.
Increase your activity: Walk. Take the stairs. If possible, squat to reach low surfaces rather than bending over at your waist.
Vary your movements: If you have to sit, make sure you take standing breaks: 20 seconds every 20 minutes or one minute every hour.

There’s plenty of fascinating and practical information in Selinger’s talk you can watch below.

9 Comments

  1. I watched Amy give this talk and I can tell you the audience was riveted. Most of us have experienced back pain so we can relate. It’s good for people to know there is something they can do.

  2. I can’t help but think that changing our physical habits is also good for our mental habits, and that by reversing life-long habits we can become stronger in both areas. Great talk with a potent reminders about staying healthy — longer. Thank you, Amy

  3. Lorna TIRMAN

    I loved Amy’s talk ! So important to take care of ourselves so we are better able to help others

  4. Jen Gurecki

    I saw Amy deliver this talk at TEDx UNR, and it was phenomenal. She motivated the entire audience to get up and out of their seats to practice her steps to readjust our bodies. Within minutes my group of friends took a big sigh of relief. Thank you Amy for the inspiration!

  5. I was at this year’s TEDxUniverisityofNevada and saw this talk in person! It was an amazing talk and I learned a lot! Thank you Amy Selinger for speaking at the event and sharing your knowledge!

  6. Christian Smith

    I’d be interested to hear any other exercises we could do. Or is the air resistance enough?

  7. As health professionals we need to walk out talk and not rush into “fixing” people. Giving people daily habits to enhance them will ultimately move society to a better state of wellness.

  8. Naveen sreekumari

    Unfortunately there is no concrete scientific evidence which supports good core strength = no or less incidences of back pain, as suggested by this video. Go to places like India, Africa and other developing countries where people spent an awful long time in so called ‘back pain provocative positions’ and check their ‘core strength’, most folks fail in their core strength tests but some how managed to led their life without debilitating episodes of back pain. This video is yet another example of selective evidencing on perpetuating this myths of core strength.

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