Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…
The evolution of man is an indelible image we’re all familiar with – at the extreme left, our most ancient ancestors walk hunched, on all fours, like modern lower primates, but as we go from left to right, each step in the evolution of man sees us walking ever more upright, spines straightening, until the dawn of modern man and finally…here we sit, hunched over once more, at our desks.
Where does the chair factor into our evolution? Why does the pinnacle of human evolution so closely resemble its origins?
We tend towards comfort in our modern lives and of course we associate sitting with leisure. Like many of the possessions we take for granted today, chairs were once considered a luxury item, affordable by only the elite few. Kings, in fact, if you go back far enough.
The history of the chair as a common, everyday item is relatively short, but the chair as a throne dates at least as far back as ancient Egypt. Ancient people would have associated chairs with monarchy, perhaps even piety, which would have naturally been aspirational. Ironic then, that so many of us now sit for hours on our chairs at home, watching kings squirm on The Iron Throne.
Chairs remained the exclusive domain of the ruling posterior until The Renaissance, when they simply became the seat of the wealthy, available to all who could afford them.
Sitting itself isn’t necessarily bad for posture – before the use of chairs became widespread, people tended to sit on the floor, or mats, in the lotus position. You know, like they do in those yoga classes you pay for.
Where does the chair factor into our evolution? Is it sending us backwards? And if it is, shouldn’t we get off our butts and do something about it? For starters, how about we ditch the chair in favour of a standing desk…