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Floor time - It's not just for babies any more.

Nope.  It should be for everyone.

Back in about 2002-3 at some point, I picked up doing Matt Furey's Combat Conditioning for my workouts.  I was doing a lot of Historical European Martial Arts (think realistic swordsmanship, wrestling, dagger work, etc.) and the guys I was practicing with swore by Furey's stuff as a great way to be in shape for such a discipline.  And I found that I absolutely loved it - to the point where even after I stopped doing the martial arts because of fatherhood demands, I kept doing the Combat Conditioning because I loved the simplicity of the workouts and their awesome effect on me.

A couple of the new paradigms I had to accept with Combat Conditioning was that shoes weren't necessary while working out (in fact, they were downright discouraged), and that the fear of going below parallel when doing any sort of squats was pure bunk.  Furey pointed out that people all over the world used a squat to rest and they were nowhere near parallel when they got into that squat.

Check out the fellows in this picture to the left. They're in a full squat, with feet flat on the ground and at about a 45-60 degree angle of thigh to calf/shin.  That's exactly what fitness "experts" have warned us against for a long time... yet these fellows are using it to play a game.  It's as natural as can be to just get down into that nice squat as a rest.

Westerners seem to squat down and keep their thighs parallel to the ground, but come up on their toes.  Because we have "trained" ourselves not use this squat as a rest position and instead have used chairs, we've lost that flexibility to get into a natural squat.  This humorous yet informative video displays some of the differences.

I found, though, that doing the squats as indicated in my old Combat Conditioning workouts had enabled me to get down into this squat pretty comfortably.  And I started doing it more often - not just as part of my workouts, but also as just a rest/stretch.  It was making my back stretch out nicely, strengthening my knees (including a dodgy left knee from where I sprained it playing rec soccer a couple of years earlier), and making my ankles more flexible. 

Fast-forward a few years to the toddler-hood of my kids.  I took note of how my son would rest when he got tired - he'd pop into a squat, just like in the picture above.  It was obviously an instinctive position, and I felt more justified than ever in championing this position.  

And I started to take notice of how I felt when I sat in chairs for a long time - I'd get stiff, my knee would start to ache a bit (which I thought really odd because I was "resting" it, with no pressure on it at all), and when I stood up it was like I had to take a few steps to let my legs and core "normalize" a bit, getting stretched back out.  I'm a computer programmer by trade, so I obviously spend a lot of time in chairs.  

Chairs obviously weren't the answer to the problem.  Movement was the answer.  But you can't move all the time, right?  I mean, the body needs to be at rest, too.  

And then came a new realization: when I got up from lying down, such as in the morning upon waking up or when I was stretched out on the couch reading, I didn't have those issues.  Minus shaking off morning grogginess and getting my balance back a bit, I'd be bounding down the stairs in the morning and the whole nine yards pretty quickly, unlike getting up from an extended period of sitting.  So lying down seemed to be a more natural position, like the squat.  

And again, that made sense.  If we didn't have backed chairs on a regular basis until the last 10,000 years or so (if that long), then we wouldn't be evolved to use them.  Squatting or other reclining was making more sense.  

The data was backing up those thoughts, too. More and more reports were coming out about the dangers of extended sitting - with consequences including early death (!), obesity, mobility issues with age, and more.  Standing desks and the like were getting more popular.  

A lot of people just chalk this up to getting older.  Joints go as you get older, so does musculature, and endurance, etc.  But stop there and go back and look at the picture up above, of the gentlemen squatting while playing their game. I see white hair, older faces, etc. in that picture.  Those guys are older, yet there they are, squatting and using that as their rest position as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  And it is.  

And then I got into MovNat.  That's a more recent thing - I'd been following it via Twitter and blog posts and such for a long time, but finally made the resolution to take it up officially this year.  I've been to Meetups with MovNat Ohio, done the training on my own (made much easier by the workouts that the MovNat website is offering), and gotten involved with it as much as possible.  And that's all about not sitting, but being out amongst nature and moving around as naturally as we can!  No chairs to be seen out in nature - if you need a rest, you need to squat or sit on the ground!  

And now the man who got me started on my primal path, Mark Sisson of The Primal Blueprint, releases this great article about ways to relax and rest without chairs - by doing what people have done for eons.  It includes squatting, but also such things as the kneeling position taken by the Japanese and other forms of healthy lounging.  So my new resolution - keep my couch time to a minimum!  And I have plenty of tools to do it.  

Other plans include requesting a standing desk when my office moves to a new location in a few months, regular standing breaks at work, and continuing to practice my squat.  Great stuff, it's making me feel even better and getting me more flexible, strong, and mobile which is exactly what I want for lifestyle I'm trying to live!  

So how about you?  Are you doing anything to avoid couches, sitting, etc.?  


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