My job used to require mobility – go out and meet people in unique places, drive a lot but also walk a lot. Like many of you, for the last year I’ve sat in a chair working in my home office. After several months of Zoom and Teams meetings my tailbone started to hurt from sitting too much, so I made a point of standing more (with a sit/stand desk). But then I found that the ankle I’d injured hiking last summer would start to ache more. Alas, it seems I’d reached the gimpy stage of life.
Fortunately there’s a cottage industry for such things. Ergonomic products designed to allow humans to do things their bodies were not designed to do, such as sit in front of a computer screen all bloody day. And so I became one of the millions of consumers of ergonomic cushions.
First up was the ankle, with a visit to an orthopedic doctor who promptly diagnosed me with flat feet and a sprained ankle. I’d known about one of those (the easy stuff even I can figure out), but well into adulthood the other was a revelation. New orthotics were prescribed, and not the kind you buy in the display racks at your favorite pharmacy. No, these were custom fit, wait two weeks to get ’em orthotics. And months later the ankle is like new again, the arches never ache and I’m ready to walk the Appalachian Trail.
The business of that tailbone was an easy fix too. A gel pad with a notch on the back end eliminated the pressure point that my fancy chair created. Combined with being able to stand for long periods without the ankle screaming at me and suddenly the whole thing is in the rearview mirror (no pun intended).
It occurred to me that the relative softness of life today that created these cushions for our feet and bottom is to blame for the entire thing. We aren’t moving as much, we eat more than we should and the parts of our bodies that aren’t designed for it are breaking down more. Sure, I had flat feet before, but I was fit enough that it was never an issue. But stick me in a chair and look what happens.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the orthotics and the seat pad. But I miss the days when I never would have thought to use them. My life became cushy. And that softness just doesn’t feel right. Softness isn’t sustainable. Hard bodies last longer.
Fortunately, there’s an fix for that too.