2006-11-17 00:00:00

Active Sitting: Strengthen You Core While at Your Desk

What is it?
You’ve heard of sitting on a donut when you have discomfort sitting but have you ever considered sitting on a sitting disc for fitness benefits? Traditionally found in the rehabilitation environment, sitting discs are gaining popularity in homes, offices and fitness facilities. The sitting disc is a flat circular air filled rubber disc. It can be used strictly for active sitting or it can be used in a variety of ways in a fitness environment to enhance a fitness program.

With more and more advancements in technology many of us are sitting at our computers for extended periods of time. Sitting in a chair can be one of the most biomechanicaly stressful positions we put our bodies into. From an evolutionary standpoint, mankind is not designed to sit. Much to some people’s surprise, there is more strain on our back when we sit than when we stand or move around. Sitting for long periods of time increases stiffness in the hips and low back at the same time weakening the muscles of the abdominal and core. In a home or office environment, active sitting on a sitting disc can help to train balance and mobility in the lower back and pelvic girdle. The sit disc creates an unstable surface when seated causing the body to sway and correct itself against gravity. This added element of balance encourages our postural muscles to become more active, providing small but beneficial movement to train the muscles of the low back, core and pelvis. By keeping the postural muscles active, we allow them to stay strong so they can meet the demands imposed on them in our day to day lives. Not to mention making sitting more comfortable on our butts.

In a fitness environment, the sitting disc can be used alone or in combination with other quipment. For example, standing on the sitting disc will train total body balance. You can then combine standing on the disc and performing a squat type exercise to work strengthand dynamic balance. The unstable surface of the sit disc stimulates the neuromuscular system to work harder than when training on a solid surface. There are as many creative ways to use the sit disc in an exercise environment, as there are fitness programs. You can use it to enhance your core-conditioning program; Pilates mat exercises and traditional strength training exercises.

Who would like it?
Ideally we would all be active in our home and work environments and we won’t need to worry about active sitting. But if your profession requires you to sit for long periods of time you may want to consider a sit disc for your office or home. Even though the level of core and back conditioning you will get is lower than traditional exercises, it will assist you in bringing some core conditioning and low back mobility into your everyday routine. As most of us find ourselves sitting more than we would like for good health, the sit disc can improve posture, strength and mobility of the core.

On the other hand if you are looking for greater challenge in your fitness program you should consider adding some sitting disc exercises to your program. Simply sitting on the disc and doing a fitness V sit or rolling half way back in abdominal curls will substantially increase the challenge to your core muscles. If you find training on other balance equipment like a wobble board or BOSU too challenging, this is a great introductory step to learning how to balance on an unstable surface.

For home fitness programs this tool is ideal and is inexpensive and easy to store.

Who wouldn’t like it?
Once you get past the initial sense of instability most people like sitting on the disc. When using it for fitness benefits, some exercises may be too challenging at the start. If you are currently working out using more advanced balance training equipment you may not find the sitting disc challenging enough. My recommendation is to try it and see how it feels for you.

The learning curve
The disc is small, portable and easy to use. For sitting the learning curve is a matter of seconds. When using it in a fitness program the difficulty of the learning curve will depend on the exercises selected. You may also find that if you haven’t done much sports or fitness training that requires balance that initially the sitting disc can be very challenging. To demonstrate my point, try sitting on it and doing a Pilates half roll back exercise.

Gear needed
No special clothing or gear is needed to use the sitting disc for active sitting. Take it to work, travel with it or use it at home. If you are taking it to the gym you will want to dress for the specific workout. These active sitting discs come in a variety of sizes to fit the size of the pelvic sitting bones. The most common size is 13-14 inches in diameter. Ask a fitness trainer or qualified staff at the supplier for assistance in purchasing the right size for you.

Where can you purchase it?
There are a number of fitness equipment stores that carry the sitting discs. They are sold under a variety of names such as a SitFit, Balance disc, a fit disc, active disc or sitting disc. To try one out visit Fitterfirst in Calgary or visit their website at www.fitter1.com. They even have one that is self inflating and easy to pack in your suitcase. The price range is from $30 to $40 depending on the brand. Most fitness facilities have them on hand so ask a fitness professional to show you how to integrate the sitting disc into your workout routine.

The bottom line
A sitting disc is a small investment that can make a big difference to your spinal health. It is a simple balance tool to learn how to use and can be used in everyday life as well as to enhance your fitness program.

Filed under: — @ 2006-11-17 00:00:00