EFFECTS OF HIGH-QUALITY SADDLE SITTING ON HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
This article deals with a weakly recognized sector of health: the sitting health. It is surprising how poorly the area is studied and how little attention it has been paid. This is noteworthy especially because of the high amount of Sitting Originated Disorders (SOD), caused by long lasting conventional sitting. Large majority of lpeople are suffering at least from some SOD every day. The exact impacts of sitting on metabolism are not at all well known. Studies on sitting and spinal health have been conducted, but none of them are connected with the pelvic area metabolism that is filled with all sorts of sensitive liquid circulation systems that are surely disturbed when we place the weight of our upper body on it. The most obvious reason for ignoring this field of study is inhibition. It may feel too “uncomfortable” to study tissues that are so close to the genitals, or genital and intestine metabolism during sitting.
Salli’s research project has a goal: to raise interest and help launch studies on sitting health in all parts of themep-nlbody. The hip is not the only area that has been neglected, but it is the most important together with the back. Both of them are very poorly studied.
Over 2/3 of the school children have changes in their back structure (poor posture etc.) already at the age of 16. Most of them are going to have chronic back pains. The problem has reached such magnitude and the trends are so alarming, that something ought to be done.
High quality saddle sitting (= an anatomically correctly designed seat with a gap in the middle of the chair) together with a height adjustable table and good elbow supports (= soft, on the sides, adjustable) seem to solve most of the problems. This combination seems to least disturb the metabolism and body functions compared to other furniture solutions and ergonomical concepts.
The following chapters list some of the changes which take place when ordinary people and typical SOD patients are introduced to saddle chair sitting (free lumbar posture). These positive changes have been experienced by a large group of customers (more than 100.000), they are confirmed by scientific studies or based on knowledge of general physiology and sometimes even on common sense.
When people move from conventional seating to a saddle seat with a gap, the following things happen:
Awareness of the Body
When people start improving their sitting radically, the effort alone brings about a change in them. People become more aware of their body and muscle tensions. New type of sitting makes people more conscious of ltheir circulation, back health, posture, overall metabolism and sitting positions, and makes them want to improve their sitting environment.
Spinal and Back Health
Sitting on a saddle seat allows the lumbar vertebras to place correctly. This helps with disc problems and lower back pains. Correct angle between the vertebras makes the facets support the next vertebra and carry approx. 30 per cent of the spinal weight. Muscles begin to strengthen due to the correct use of the back. Moving around with the chair and reaching for items becomes easier and risk-free because of the good lower back posture, firm foot support and proper use of the lower back muscles. The correct use of back muscles leads to a gradual improvement in posture and painless life for people with scoliosis.
Tensions in the shoulder-neck area are relived because of better positioning of the thoracic and cervical spine and better posture of the shoulders. Shoulders and the neck rest freely. Soft elbow supports close to the sides of the body add to the effect.
In addition, the neck area tensions are also decreased. Sound formation in the throat improves as the tension in the sound forming organs is relieved. Circulation of blood to the head improves, reducing the frequency of headaches.
Increased relaxation in the neck-shoulder area also helps in getting rid of the mouse-hand nerve symptoms. Poor wrist angle, repetitious movement and muscle tensions, together with a nerve pinch in the kyphotic shoulder area, are the main causes of the mouse-hand nerve problems.
The sensitivity of the circulation can be tested by closing a vein on the back of the hand by pressing it with a finger. Almost no pressure is needed. Imagine how dramatically the circulation is disturbed when we place our upper body weight on our soft tissues and sit almost motionless against a back rest.
Saddle sitting improves the circulation of blood and the operation of the lymphatic system. The impact is strongest in the typical pressure areas (when using a conventional chair) − the hips, the thigh muscles and the back. In addition, the circulation also improves in the typical tension areas like the upper back. Lower extremities benefit as a result of the wider angles in the hips and in the knees. The performance of the muscles is improved due to easier usage. The ischial bones carry most of the body weight and the pressure to the muscles in the pelvic and thigh area is reduced. In addition, deeper breathing (see later) has a positive impact on circulation.
Increased Mobility, an Alternative to Standing
Traditionally, many jobs involve standing, especially in the field of customer service. With a saddle chair standing is no longer necessary; working on saddle chair is a great alternative to standing. The employee is approximately on the same height as the customer. Less strain on the lower back and the increased circulation in the lower extremities help the employee to stay in a good mood and maintain a high quality of customer service. By using a saddle chair equipped with wheels, the employee is able to move effortlessly from one place to another with just a small push from the legs, freely positioned on both sides.
Roughly 50 per cent of the adult population in Europe suffers from some kind of physical sexual disorder at least periodically. One of the main reasons for this is sitting and its harmful effect on circulation. When it comes to men, the problem of seat design is clearly visible in all workplaces. Men tend to sit with their pelvis tilted back. This is an unconscious way of relieving the pressure on the root of penis. Men keep their thighs spread in order to eliminate the feeling pressure to their testicles. In addition, tight clothing can also cause pressure to the man’s genitalia, which is very sensitive to the effects of pressure and should not subject to it for longer periods.
Saddle chair with a gap in the middle cools down the testicles to their optimum temperature of 33 C° (approx. 91 F°). In conventional sitting conditions the temperature of the testicles can often rise to 37 C° (approx. 99 F°). This could also be the reason behind the general decrease in genital health and the reduced quality of sperm.
When using a high-quality saddle chair, the lower part of the penis (approx. 10 cm in length from the pubic bone under the hip and behind the testicles) does not get pressured the way it does with bad saddle chairs and common chairs. As a result, less harmful pressure is applied on the veins in the genitalia and especially on the pudendal nerve. The pressure to the pudendal nerve is a known cause of impotence on bicyclists and the same phenomenon has also started to occur with men using a one-part-seat saddle chairs. A fair amount of pressure is also concentrated on the pudendal nerve when a man is sitting with his hip straight up. In this case the lower back is in a better position, but the pressure on the pudendal nerve increases. Any man can test this by sitting down very slowly on a softly padded chair and feeling the effects of the pressure on the tissues.
Modern clothing and lots of sitting combined with the use of pantiliners and sanitary pads increase the risk of infections in women’s genitalia. Sitting on a saddle chair with a gap decreases this risk. Most women find inadequate gap or a saddle seat without a gap uncomfortable around the pubic bone area. The feeling is mainly a result of the pressure on the pudendal nerve and can also be caused by the pressure induced on the pubic bone by the seat. Of course, such pressure leads to decreased circulation is thus also a health hazard. Decreased circulation (resulting from position, pressure, and thigh angle) causes temperature in the pelvic floor tissues to decline. It is generally known that prostate infections are very common and caused at least partly by the cooling down of the prostate gland.
With both men and women a gap in the chair encourages the hip to tilt forward without the uncomfortable pressure against the pubic bone and the genitals. This helps to keep the lumbar posture in a natural lordosis (= the ideal form of the spine). With women, the uncomfortable feeling in their genitals comes especially from the pressure on the pudendal nerve when it gets trapped between the pubic bone and the chair.
A saddle chair with a gap in the middle effectively relieves the pressure to the genital area and maintains safe angles between the thighs and the upper body.
Knee and Hip Joints
With a saddle chair, the angles in the hips and the knees are about 135 degrees. This wider angle improves the metabolism in the joints and decreases the risk of joint ailments. Constant 90-degree angle (when sitting on a conventional chair) is known to increase the risk of arthritis in the knee and hip joints.
With men, the nerve functions improve especially in the genital area (as opposed to using a saddle chair without a gap), in the hip and lower back areas and also in the lower extremities. These areas are the main targets of the sitting pressure that bother the nerve functions. With a chronically poor posture, many nerve dysfunctions seem to appear all over the back in addition with vertebra problems.
Using a high-quality saddle chair will increase the oxygen intake considerably. Stiffness in the chest bone and ribs and the upper spine area decreases. This, combined with reduced muscle tensions and better posture, will make the whole breathing mechanism work better and allow the chest structure expand fluently, thus helping the breathing to become deeper. Increased oxygen intake will increase the oxygen in the whole body and slow down the process of getting tired.
Pelvic Floor Muscles
Pelvic floor muscles do not like the pumping movement of the horse back riding, but they do like sitting on a saddle chair. Bending and the use of lower back and pelvic muscles have a positive impact on the general muscle strength of the body. Sitting with less pressure on the soft tissues and increased use of muscles activate the metabolic functions in the pelvic floor area.
Shoulder joint problems are common in professions where the angle between the upper body and the upper arm is more than 30 degrees, for example in dentistry. When using a saddle chair, the angle usually stays smaller than 30 degrees and with a good spinal posture helps to prevent the shoulder joint problem from developing.
Spinal Health and Internal Organs
In traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in traditional Scandinavian folk’s medicine, spinal vertebras, their health and balance are known to have a connection with certain organs and their functions. For example, common problems with L4 and L5 have a connection with the hip, the knee and the blood circulation of the lower extremities, urinary problems and sciatic pain. The problems in other vertebras also have connections to many other internal organs.
Stomach and Intestines
As the upper body posture improves, the pressure to the stomach, small intestine and colon decreases and the stomach is no longer pressed between the hip and the chest. This has a positive effect on the bowel movements (peristalsis and its efficiency) and digestion.
A saddle chair with a high middle part without the gap can also press the anus and the rectum indirectly, causing slowing down or postponing of the evacuation reflex.
It is justifiable to say that the looks of a person improve (together with better health) with the correct use of a saddle chair. Improved circulation in lower extremities is also expected to decrease swelling, development of cellulite and varicose veins. In addition, the improvement in the posture makes the upper body look better as the shoulders are straight and the neck and the head held up. Good shoulder position also improves the aesthetics of the female breasts. After sitting for many years, and as we age, the buttocks can become flat and loose their healthy, strong and sexy looks. A saddle chair can help to reduce these effects.