“In captivity (office, gym, commute, sports), life is just repetitive stress injury.”—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes (2010)

92821459I’ve been getting these annoying leg cramps since my late twenties. They often make it hard for me to sleep. At their worst, they make it hard for me to even think straight. I’ve tried all sorts of things to fix the problem over the years—more stretching, more exercise, less coffee, massage, yoga, chiropractors, muscle relaxants, more walking, more water, more bananas—but none of it worked.

Although the source of the cramps remained a mystery, I recently noticed that they got better whenever I was on vacation and worse whenever I was at work, which led me to conclude that the cramps must be caused by something I do a great deal of when I’m working. And what do I do a lot of when I’m working? I sit.

I sit when I’m grading assignments. I sit when I’m preparing for class. I sit through office hours. I sit on the bus and metro, for three hours a day, commuting to and from work. I sit when I’m reading. I sit when I’m writing. And I sit when I’m wasting time on Facebook. In short, I sit, sit, sit, sit, sit.

But less so lately.

I converted my work-space into a standing desk about a week and a half ago. It was awkward for a day or two, but I quickly grew accustomed to it. As for the results, well, they’ve been nothing short of miraculous. Within three days, the cramps were noticeably better. After a week, they were gone. Completely gone.

Never ceases to amaze me, how much this sedentary civilized modern life of ours deforms us, and debilitates us.

—John Faithful Hamer, Twilight of the Idlers (2016)