Part Five of the Five Taxations: Maybe ‘Stand Up, Stand Up’ Is Not Always Best

Image Courtesy of FreeImages.com


Today is Part Five of our Five Taxation series. First, a quick review:

Part 1: Goldilocks and the Five Taxations: An Introduction
Chinese medicine advocates balance in everything. Even activities that seem harmless, or are considered positive by most people, should only be done in balance. Too much of any activity will cause an imbalance somewhere else.

Part 2: I Can See Clearly Now: To Observe Over a Long Time Harms the Blood
Our eyes are sensitive to overwork. Because of the connections they have with the Liver, Gallbladder, and Wood Element in Chinese medicine, overusing your eyes can hurt your health over time.

Part 3: Get Up and Boogie: Excessive Lying Down, Which Damages Flesh
Lying down too much means you cannot be getting enough exercise. Inadequate exercise leads to a host of problems, including blood sugar issues, poor circulation, obesity, and has been linked to dementia and poor stress management.

Part 4: Sitting Needs Moderation 
“Oversitting” is at least as bad as “excessive lying down,” with the same issues plus more problems with posture.

And today’s entry, “excessive standing, which injures bones.” 

These days, standing is in vogue. There are standing desks, standing meetings, and advice to never, ever, ever sit.  

As with most things advised in our modern world, Chinese medicine would disagree with such an all-or-nothing approach. Standing for long periods is hard on the blood vessels in the legs, increasing the risk of carotid atherosclerosis ninefold, as well as contributing to varicose veins. For many people, it can aggravate back, foot, or knee pain, especially if the surface they need to stand on is too unyielding. It can also cause fatigue if there is no option to sit or rest.

Chinese medicine sees standing too long as harmful to the bones. The bones are governed by the Water element, which also includes the Kidney and Bladder systems. More than the organs that filter and excrete urine, in the Chinese medical system they also have a major role in maintaining you jing, or essence–which deals with your reproductive health as well as your “reserve energy”–the well you go to when you’re exhausted but need to keep going. Anything that taxes this system will make it harder for you to overcome stress, especially long-term, unrelenting stress that eats at your peace.

So what’s a person to do? Don’t look out too much. Don’t sit too long, don’t stand too long, don’t lie down too much, and don’t walk a lot (our next and final taxation)–unless you can levitate, there’s only one answer left someone seeking the wisdom of a millenia-old system of medicine. Do a little bit of all of them. Sit sometimes, stand a little, lie down to rest, and walk enough for exercise, but not to exhaustion. Our bodies are made for lots of different activities. In our computer age, we have made sitting and exercise-for-exercise’s sake our primary movements. How about we try other things? Walk with a friend, or walk or bike to get from Point A to Point B. Stretch to rock climb, or reach something from a high shelf, or to dance to music. Lay down on the grass and look at the clouds. Or let your eyes rest, and listen to the birds and the breeze and the sound of children laughing. Stand to greet others, or to give your seat to someone who is tired and needs the rest. If you want other ideas, this article might be helpful.

Chinese medicine is about balance. Instead of latching on to one activity, how about filling your life with the variety of all activities that bring you health?

Articles used in writing this post:
http://www.hazards.org/standing/
http://www.ericcressey.com/6-tips-for-people-who-stand-all-day
http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/13/the-dangers-of-sitting-at-work%E2%80%94and-standing/


Advertisements

Part Four of the Five Taxations: Sitting Needs Moderation

Just  because I’m happy doesn’t mean I should be sitting


Not long ago, I started a series on The Five Taxations–five activities that wear out your system when done in excess. Here is our progress so far:

Our next Taxation is “excessive sitting, which injures flesh.” 

Sitting has become the new no-no in our culture. Type “dangers of sitting” in a search engine, and watch the articles pop up. Sitting for long periods is linked with increased likelihood of disability, heart disease, poor posture, and muscle pain and weakness, and, if you are exercising by sitting on a bicycle, sitting is linked to impotence. Chinese medicine doesn’t think much of over-sitting, either.

In Chinese medicine, “flesh” is considered to be the stuff that covers your bones that is meaty. While some in Chinese medicine equate flesh and muscle, others see them as separate. Either way, flesh is primarily governed by the Earth element, which consists of the Spleen and Stomach and the body functions they manage–the breaking down of food, the sense of self and ability to think, remember, and focus appropriately, management of “dampness,” affecting everything from achy pains to edema or bloat, and the creation of energy and phlegm. An injury to the flesh will also compromise these functions by stressing the Earth energy. Sitting injures the flesh by impeding the free flow of blood and qi, both by the pressure of sitting on the meridians and by the lack of movement caused by being still.

The obvious way to avoid excessive sitting is by moving around. Get up from your desk at least every couple of hours (every half hour is better) and walk–to the restroom, breakroom, around the parking lot, to deliver an item to a co-worker–whatever you can do. Standing and treadmill desks  are all the rage now, making it possible to work at a computer without sitting at all.  

We Chinese medicine practitioners would add the caveat that anything done in less than moderation will have a down side. In fact, the final two taxations are excessive standing and excessive walking. So perhaps in addition to giving yourself the option to work at a computer while standing, consider taking time away from the computer completely. And time away from work. And time away from walking. Take some of your sitting outside, where you can connect to the ground and watch the birds, or clouds, or tiny little ants doing their thing. And then go for walk in fresh air.

Coming soon! Our next taxation: “Excessive standing, which injures bones”

Articles mentioned in this blog: