Have you ever wondered what a guy like Kelly Starrett considers the most important thing he will ever do? Wonder no more because he answers that question and more on this podcast.
On Episode 30 of the Doc and Jock Podcast, Dr. Danny and Coach Joe discuss kids health with Kelly and Juliet Starrett. The Starretts are on a mission to drastically change the direction of kids health in the U.S. Their newly launched non-profit, StandUp Kids, is dedicated to a simple mission, Fighting for Kids health, One Desk at a Time.
(Side note: Dr. Matta recently announced that all proceeds from the PhysioCoach Foot and Ankle course will go directly to Standup Kids, so if you haven't had a chance to purchase, now is the perfect time!)
If you are unhappy with your kid’s spine being stuck for 8 hours a day in a chair, which the only design consideration was stacking and vacuuming, StandUp Kids is a non-profit you need to support. Partnering up with Donors Choose, the original crowd funder, StandUp Kids is on mission to make global changes to the U.S. educational system.
The conversation begins with simply unplugging and engaging in non-structured play and non-exercise activity. The Starrett’s discus their recent trip to southern Oregon and the Rogue River. Hanging out in an area with no cell phone reception and without most modern conveniences they were forced to unplug and go with the flow - literally.
Juliet then describes an encounter with a Hippo. Yes, that kind of Hippo. After competing and winning the World White Water Championships in Africa in 1997, Juliet was attacked by an adult Hippo while taking part in a rafting trip. Amazingly enough she swam 70 yards to shore in crocodile infested water and escaped with only a small scrape – caused by the tooth of the hippo while breaking through her kayak.
We quickly understand that StandUp Kids is about effecting the lifestyle of America’s youth, not simply getting kids to do more sit ups and putting a Band-Aid on a huge problem. The Starrett’s began to notice interesting orthopedic issues popping up with 1st grade kids. Anyone with pre K kids can attest to the fact that they kids run on the balls of their feet and squat pretty well. However, the Starrett’s began to notice poor movement patterns associated with a high degree of sitting. Kelly describes a light bulb moment realizing he had neglected to apply the Mobility Wod model to kids. Juliet also describes a simple calculation she performed that showed that if she stood at a desk, as opposed to sitting, she had the potential to burn an extra 90,000 calories a year!
Danny asks if research from the Bogalusa Long term heart study impacted their own research or played into the discovery of stand up desks as a simple fix to a major problem. Bottom line is folks are working hard to solve the childhood obesity problem. Across the board, whether its University research or a subjective experience with 5 classrooms in San Fran, the findings are that a movement rich environment is positive for kids health.
Kelly also describes some specifics about the StandUp Kids intervention. If kids are sitting there simply are not many options for kids to move. By making the simple and effective switch to a standing desk kids have more movement options to manage the learning situation, non of which include turning their backs into question marks. One of which, however, is sitting on the floor. The major point here is that sitting in a chair is not natural. Kelly challenges anyone sitting to attempt to jump, jerk, swim or deadlift with a similar posture and spinal angle.
Another specific point in the StandUp Kids intervention is having the ability to elevate the foot, a la Captain Morgan. The standup desk they prefer has a swinging bar to achieve this pose. Being able to prop the foot up takes a great deal of the stress off of the back and allows for a more dynamic work station.
The standing intervention also brings about the potential to discuss proper and improper positioning in regards to basic human shapes optimal for health and longevity. Across the board PE classes are being cut, movement skills de-emphasized, and general activity being cut out of a kid’s days. One of the featured curriculum points on the stand up kids site is MOVEMENT BREAK CURRICULUM. These breaks are short two minute interventions to direct kids toward more positive positions, help teachers utilize time during breaks in lesson plans, and keep kids engaged in the classroom.
The proposal and implementation was relatively pain free. In the Starrett’s experience educators are clawing for fixes to a system that simply isn’t working. The Starrett’s put their money where their mouth was with the first pilot school, funding the entire 4th grades turnover to standup desks. Currently the first ever school in the U.S. with only standup desks is a reality and major donors like Tim Ferris are getting on board.
If you want to help, the best thing to do is spread the word and simply continue the momentum by donating money and putting kids in your local area in a standing desk. Another call to action is to design a conversion kit of sorts to utilize current sitting desks. The StandUp Kids movement is alive and well but will only continue to change lives with your help. Check out the site, go to Donors Choose, and start today what could be the process toward changing the lives of kids on your area.
Links Mentioned in the Podcast
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.