Our sleep quality's declining
And while scientists hunt down the cause, a giant shift in human behaviour has somehow escaped investigation.
Until April 1st, 2020. When I blundered into it.
Let's talk about Monday mornings
Because they used to look completely different.
That’s what struck me as I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price.
As each of the authors met with tribes living outside the modern world, they observed the same thing.
They hunted, gathered and built
They weren't sitting
Because, as crazy as it sounds, chairs are new.
For the bulk of our existence, we’ve eaten, socialized, and taken a shit in the deep squat position.
You and I did it, too, when we were toddlers.
But as soon as we hit primary school, chairs became the norm. Soon after, our ankles and hips became unfamiliar with their full ranges of motion…and we lost the squat.
Which was much more than a portable seat:
- It’s an onboard physiotherapist: correcting issues with knees, backs and posture. (Once Paul proofread this draft, he tried 30 minutes per day of deep squatting to relieve his back pain. It took three days.)
- It provides the movement our knees need for their synovial fluid to stay healthy.
- It forces our leg muscles into their full ranges of motion, which they depend on for avoiding atrophy.
It makes sense why the streets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East are sidelined with people in a crouch.
Squatting is part of a bigger picture
And to continue, I need to introduce you to Ido Portal; the world’s most respected movement teacher.
When he asked,
Do you really think the human body was designed to work-out for 45 minutes, three times per week?
I shook my head.
His lifetime of research shows that healthy humans move throughout the day.
Compare that to an above-active person in our world: a seated eight-hour shift, followed by an intense hour of sport.
We haven’t got it right, and the glaring evidence is a plague of overuse injuries.
You’ve probably got a grandpa with a wrecked elbow from golf, or an aunty with bad knees from running.
That’s because stationary days combined with one physical discipline places extreme loads on a small number of muscles and joints, creating an unstable body.
I was convinced
So, back at the beginning of April, I reworked my understanding of healthy movement.
It started with Portal’s 30/30 squat challenge — deep squatting for a total of 30 minutes per day, for 30 days.
A lifetime of chair use had left me unable to squat with my heels flat on the ground. So, for days 1–10, I followed the instructions and did 30-second stints with my heels raised on books.
But by day 11, I was speechless. My body had self-corrected and I could ditch the books.
Alongside the squatting, I peppered my days with movement.
It wasn’t hard to leave my standing desk every fifteen minutes for a couple of yoga poses, press-ups, or mobility drills.
These practices were all in addition to my usual routine — callisthenics, running, or yoga, six days per week.
And from day one, something changed
For the first time in my life, I was out within 10 minutes… waking up fresh seven and a half hours later.
I’d stumbled across the outcome that I hadn’t managed with breathwork, wind-down routines, or even up to an hour of meditation per day.
Squatting isn’t the hero, though. I think the consistent movement of any kind is what’s helping my body function as it should.
I'll confess to two bad nights
One morning, a pot of Finnish espresso was left at the breakfast table. I couldn’t help myself, and those four cups did what they do.
The second incident was when I couldn’t say no to a feast of fruit, nuts and dark chocolate just before bed.
The lesson? Poor self-control undoes anything
If you’re up for it, wonderful sleeping awaits.
- Move throughout the day
- Consider yourself handicapped until you restore your ability to deep squat
- Complement your specialized sport with other disciplines
- If you're going to do the 30/30 challenge, understand that it's 30 minutes per day in total (two months later, I still break it into 45-second stints)
- Sleep like a baby
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