Paleo chair is a simple, yet effective way of stretching out through the hips and the lower back.
Mobility for the modern human is something which is lacking due to our lifestyles. Many of us work office jobs, sat down on chairs, hunched over.
Over time, our nervous systems and muscles adapt to these positions.
Mobility lessens as the requirement to drop the hips lower than a chair is seldom seen.
Hip flexors are in a shortened position when sat down.
These muscles attach to the bottom part of the spine and come down to attach to the inside of the hip. This can create a pull on the spine when stood up, forcing a position known as an anterior tilt, shortening the muscles in the lower region of the back. This position, in turn, deactivates the muscles in the glutes. The back pain soon follows!
Interestingly enough, hip problems and back problems are rarely seen in eastern civilisations.
Throughout many parts of Asia, the normal position to sit into is a position that can be referred to as ‘paleo chair’.
This position sees the person ‘sit’ down without a chair, allowing their thighs to touch their calves.
From there you will see them do a multitude of tasks, or quite simply relax and chat with their friends.
Ask a person who has spent years sitting in chairs to find the same position and 9 times out of 10, they will either fall over when trying or quite simply not get the same depth.
Even finding the same depth and keeping it will soon become a difficult task, and 30 seconds will seem like a lifetime and the need to stand will ensue.
It can’t be helped that we are required to sit on chairs, that is a way of life now, but we can still try to battle these mobility issues.
Years ago swiss balls were put into offices to stop people from slouching and more recently standing desks are becoming common place.
This is certainly helping, but more is needed.
Paleo chair is a simple, yet effective way of stretching out through the hips and the lower back. It can be done anywhere.
But for some people, dropping straight down into a paleo chair can be too much. So start with an easier variation. There are levels of progression before you try the final paleo chair.
If the final paleo chair is already too easy, don’t worry, there are other even tougher variations to help further your mobility.
You will also need a high level of ankle mobility to be able to complete paleo chair, which will eventually be increased, and you’ll be surprised at how much this will improve your squat form.
In each of these levels, sit as far down as possible keeping your feet flat on the floor (the end goal trying to get your thighs to meet your calves). Once you have gotten your thighs to your calves, try to sit tall, chest proud, shoulders back and your back as straight as possible.
Don’t move on until you can do that all of this in the correct position comfortably. Try to do the paleo chair in minimal shoes/barefoot/just socks if possible.
It is not uncommon for the front of the shin to ache after trying this position for the first few times.
Paleo chair level 1- holding onto an immovable object, (something like a pole is the best option) grasping your fingers around the object so you can really hold on. When this becomes easy for 3 sets of 30 seconds, move onto the next level.
Paleo chair level 2- The same as level one, but only take your fingertips to the side of the immovable object, relying much less on your grip. Move on once this becomes easy for 3 sets of 30 seconds.
Paleo chair level 3- This time hold a weight plate or dumbbell, or something heavy out in front of you.
We aren’t working your shoulders here, so if your shoulders start to tire, bend your elbows so your biceps take a bit of the weight.
The weight acts as a bit of a counterbalance and you’ll find it’s easier than the full paleo chair position because of this. Work towards using a lighter and lighter weight each time. Move on once 3 sets of 30 seconds are a piece of cake.
Paleo chair level 4- Full paleo chair. Sit straight into it not holding onto anything.
Advanced paleo chair variations. This is where you can play about much more with your positioning. Push your knees out with your elbows to give your adductor’s a really good stretch and open up your hips.
Try much narrower stances. Try a cossack position, where one leg is straight out to the side, the heel of the foot is on the floor and the toes towards the ceiling.
Give this a go. Complete it before a workout (complete a dynamic warm-up after it then move it into your workout) or finish with this after a workout, or you can do it when you wake up, or just before you go to bed, whenever suits you.
Try to keep it up daily for 4 weeks and see how your hips, lower back, and ankles improve with this simple mobility drill, and in turn improve your squats.