The Footloose Method™ creates an office that simulates a jungle or a playground, where you would otherwise be sitting at a desk. When you see your habitat like this–more than a desk and a chair–a place to be free to move, stretch and relax, you no longer need to think in terms of prescriptive maintenance and “I gotta do this” mentality.
The idea is to introduce play to the everyday setting. To have life integrated so there is no down time. There isn’t the time you are destroying something by the process of atrophy (inactivity), over-use (too much of one position), improper use (alignment), repetitive use, overstimulation (stress), understimulation (boredom). Also, another paleo lifestyle ingredient is rhythm. In this case, we can follow instinctual urges to either be more active or less active to the point of resting.
Okay, if this sounds like the impossible, because you think, “how will I get anything done? I will always be interrupted with some change of position or some movement I’m supposs to do”, think again. How many times are you looking at the computer screen just starring waiting on your next idea or something to finish downloading? How many times are you sitting there talking on the phone when you could be pacing back and forth, doing a yoga stretch, or giving your feet a workout on your foot massager? The fact is, there are gaps in between the times we are actually typing on the keyboard or clicking the mouse. And those gaps can be filled with all these play activities.
Also, you can do these anywhere, not just the office. So when you are watching a movie at home for instance, you could be aligning and resting rather than more forward slumping by sitting on a couch. I like to rest every chance I get, so it will allow me to move every chance I get.
The Footloose Method™ is about turning the everyday office experience–and other activities where we sit–into play. NASA scientist Dr. Verticos and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals describes play as basically, playing with gravity. She studied the effects of gravity on astronauts who had none, and found out, the gravity vector is essential to our well being and survival. Without gravity we fall apart on the cellular level and everything in-between, and quickly. Sitting still has similar effects on us here on the planet as being in space with no gravity has on the astronauts.
And she points out an interesting thought: that when we think of fun things to do, they often have to do with gravity (i.e. sledding, roller coaster, skateing, skiing, merry-go-round, slippery slide, etc.) In the office, getting up and down to the floor has a dramatic and positive effect on us due to the gravity vector. The other reason the floor is so important is that it introduces ways of moving and loading the body otherwise not possible, like crawling, squatting, etc. And also, we are Natives to the ground. Civilization has shunned the floor and the ground as “savage” but Paleo has pointed out, we need it. As far as the body, “use it or loose it”.
The Footloose Method™ puts tactile, kinesthetic, somatic fun and play into the dead zone. In order to do that, there needs to be a restructuring of the habitat. The habitat needs to offer places to put the body and the computer, books, papers, etc. in useful, constructive places. Think “obstical course”. Think, “health spa”. Think “playground” or “yoga room”. Bring your toys. Bring your other movement practices. Are you ready?
Ergonomics almost goes out the window. This is a whole new paradigm based on the fact that you will be moving so much, you won’t get stuck in one position. There are some guidelines of course of optimal placement of you, your computer, etc. that facilitate good body mechanics. However, the new element of change of positions and movement mean, you could be in a less than optimal position and it won’t hurt you. In fact, it could even help you, by adding a bit of variety…getting you out of the ‘cast’ that chronic chair sitting has shaped you into. Sometimes “incorrect” might actually be good. By adding variety, the game changes. Now you are cross training.
The habitat now offers a smorgausboard of movement options, And also, it offers a step by step progression of advancing you from where you are at to where you want to go. In fact, our body’s have become shaped and casted into what they are today. It is not safe to force them into movements and positions they are not used to and maybe not even currently capable of. However, since our body’s are malleable and adaptable, we can introduce them to new patterns and habitats and allow them to slowly reshape themselves.
I have spent a couple of decades playing with these ideas and inventing the tools used by the Footloose Method™. My career started as a designer for eco yoga props. As I worked I kept wondering, why am I sitting in a chair? There is nothing yoga about this. Then I asked the question, ‘How can I get this into the everyday environment?” Wa La! This began my quest which lead up to what I call Integrative Office Fitness.
I have designed tools that have gone through years of testing. However you can use these ideas and tweak your current environment using things you can find….or make your own.
So let’s get started. I am going to present the ideal Footloose and Chairfree Office. This basic guideline will give you a jumping off place that you can tweak and make it work for you, your type of job and computer set up, your body type and size, level of flexibility and fitness, etc.
Moving in healthy constructive ways that support optimal structure and prevent injuries. In this definition of ‘movement’ I am using the idea of shifting the load bearing on the body, as taught by Katy Bowman in her book Move Your DNA.
Changing positions when you feel like it using several work stations varying from standing to floor sitting to lounging and everything in-between.
The floor is an advantage. We need to move back to it. Do it slowly if you aren’t used to it.
Barefeet is essential. Minimalist shoes if you need to. This is where alignment of the body begins and most of use have feet that are stiff and are going to work against everything else.
Also, the way you sleep, esp. the type of surface you sleep on, is another important factor. Click here for my video The Ergonomics of Sleep.
This will compliment your other healthy practices: pilates, yoga, fitness training, sleep, diet, massage and bodywork, chiropractic, etcThis is the missing link. This is where, if you don’t do it, you destroy the thing you fixed when you did those other healthy practices.
You need to learn good body mechanics.
Getting down to the floor
Getting up from the floor
Sitting, standing, walking (stick butt out back, belly out front),
Roll shoulders back (give link to Gokhale Lesson)
Otherwise you can actually damage yourself and cause injury. Most of us have no idea how to do these without some training. Even the simple act of walking. A great place to learn is the Gokhale Method.
Standing with Tilt Seat only. Typing up high…too high…but okay if you are only doing small amounts of typing and more mouse work and viewing of the screen. Also changing often, moving away from computer.
Lean against wall: hand on wall, elbow on wall, hand over head
do stork pose, alternate legs
Bend knees slightly, then straighten. Deep shifting that.
modified downward dog
elbows alongside computer with chin resting in palms
One elbow propping side of head
wiggle side to side, front to back
Standing with Tilt Seat and Sky bench to hold external keyboard and mouse. Ideal for standing. Talk about tweaking using the three sizes of tilt seats.
Standing with tilt seat and peace bench. Same as above only not as stable. Gets keyboard lower.
Floor Sitting Zen Office: kneeling, perching, squatting. tweak using the three sizes.
Knees in the air with reverse tilt on Peace Bench
Use wall to lean against without peace bench
Floor sitting at the low table.
sitting on peace bench
sitting on sky bench, using another sky bench for screen. Use peace bench for external keyboard.
Use floor alone, to spread papers: all the ways of stretching out, side rotation, etc. Put peace bench aside and just kneel with no support.and cross legged. Watch the back doesn’t round and slump, which often happens when we start floor sitting without good training.
Lying Face Down
inversion swing OM GYM
Storage (movable boxes or tubs)