Here we are talking about a different type of sitting to house and pet sitting. Four years ago, I hurt my right ankle during a game of football. I had torn not one, not two, but three ligaments. Amazingly, considering how rough I had been on my body over the years, I was thankful that this was my first serious injury; it still took several months to heal.
As a fitness coach and sports enthusiast, I was eager to get back into shape after about four months off. But in recovering from an injury of this severity, my right ankle had lost much of its stability and range of motion. At this point, I could no longer deep squat without falling over backwards. So, embarrassingly, in my first session lifting weights again, with my body rusty, my ankle unreliable, and despite using much lighter weights than before, my body just crumpled during a lift, and as a result I ruptured a disc in my spine. Another couple of months I had to spend on the side-lines recuperating.
Having multiple major injuries and spending such a long time being physically inactive back-to-back, literally destroyed my momentum and motivation. My body had never felt worse. Sitting at my desk for just an hour or two would cause troublesome spasms in my back. My ankle troubles also affected my knee and hip. It was a painful mess. Because I struggled to sit comfortably at a desk, I started to get restless and fidgety, which made me look for other ways to work on my computer. That was how and why I first started sitting on the floor. The idea was simple. Every now and then, I would work away from my desk. My preferred position was deep squatting with my back leaning against the wall, as this allowed me to stretch my tight ankles and hips without falling over backwards. At first, my right foot would have pins and needles in just a few minutes.
I would sit my backside down on the floor and continue working from there. When I felt like it again, I would go back into a deep squat, or into one of the many other positions that would lightly stretch another part of my body. The more I sat on the floor, the more pain-free I felt. I got so comfortable with the floor that, what was supposed to be just an alternative way to work on my computer, soon became the primary way. When I was sleepy, I would even take a nap on the floor. This was all amusing to friends and family, even if they struggled to comprehend why I would prefer to sit on the floor when I had a perfectly functional desk and chair available to me.
I really appreciated the freedom to move when on the floor, so when it was time to move into our new apartment, I discussed with my wife having our workspace on the floor, because of all the benefits to my body I had experienced first-hand. But we didn’t just go ahead with the idea on a whim; it was quite a significant change after all. We had our concerns and questions about the practicality of it all.
Would it get uncomfortable? Is it even good for one’s body in the long run? So we did our research, and even though we cannot say that we have an answer to every question, I think we got it mostly figured out.
In many cultures, notably Asian, sitting on the floor is still the preferred way to rest and engage in social activities like having a meal together. Outside of these cultures, there’s also a growing group of people who are adopting these practices purely out of preference. Sitting on the floor and deep squatting are simply natural human resting positions. There’s no reason why it should be uncomfortable, except modern life has pretty much coached us out of these habits. But frankly, sitting on a floor chair that has a backrest doesn’t feel any less comfortable than sitting on a normal chair — for us at least. If there’s anything uncomfortable, it would be getting in and out of the seat when used with the floor desk.
But once seated, it feels great. Of course the level of comfort cannot be compared to sitting on modern furniture, such as ergonomic office chairs, which are designed to keep us comfortable in one position for extended periods of time. Some may imagine sitting on the floor to be uncomfortable, or at least less comfortable than sitting on more conventional furniture. Therefore sitting on the floor must be bad for the body — but there isn’t a direct correlation between the two. There’s been a lot of talk about how prolonged sitting is detrimental to our health. But for many, having to work long hours often in an office chair, is an unavoidable reality.
And while economics certainly and importantly aspect deserve attention, sitting in an expensive ergonomic chair, even in a perfectly optimised environment for 12 hours a day is still going to mess up the human body on a deep level.
But that’s not to say that chairs are the culprits, not at all. Similarly, sitting on the floor is also NOT the solution. One can be sedentary whether sitting on the chair or on the floor. The real issue is not so much how we are sitting, but how little we are moving. So, when it came time to decide on our own sitting situation, we realized that what we valued more was the freedom and variety of options that sitting on the floor provides us with. Our catchphrase when it comes to taking good care of our bodies, is “Eat well, Move more and Worry less.” And ever since we’ve started sitting on the floor, we found ourselves moving much more.
There are smaller movements like shifting between the different sitting positions, and also larger movements like getting up and down the floor multiple times a day. Both of us have benefited from our new seating arrangement. Our bodies feel more limber, and there’s also been some improvement in our strength and flexibility. It may not be a significant difference in the short term, but we believe that all these small improvements will come in handy if we can keep this up into our later years.
For me, at least now I can go into a deep squat without falling over backwards. The intention of this article is not to convince anyone to make the switch, because well, nothing is for everybody.
This is just our personal take on why we choose to sit on the floor.
We also feel there’s a need to address some comments by those who are convinced sitting on the floor is bad for the body, or that it’s somehow going to ruin our backs. That is just wrong, and quite ironically, an improvement to my own back problem was precisely one of the benefits we got out of this. But it must be made clear your own mileage gained will vary. Sitting on the floor may not do wonders for your back the way it did for mine. If you’re considering giving it a try, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research to find out if sitting on the floor will actually help you achieve your personal objectives.
But, whichever way you choose to sit, one thing is for sure, we all benefit from moving more… and, as our house sitters will testify, moving from one house sitting assignment to the next, having fun and savouring new experiences and sometimes strange local cultures, is one of the best ways to keep moving, keep fit, and keep young!
Remember the household name in the house sitting game: House and Home Sitters Ltd.