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Easy does it - Don't sit too long on your butt
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Going too far is as bad as not going far enough" - that's not only for psychological well-being, but also for taking care of your body, the traditional Chinese medicine way.

Be active and use your body, but not too much, even in the most common activities - using your eyes, lying down, sitting, standing and walking. Forget about no-pain-no-gain.

The classical TCM "five strains" or wu lao are too much watching and reading (using the eyes), lying down for too long, sitting too long, standing or walking for too long, or far.

The TCM classic "Huang Di Nei Jing" ("The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor") says such over-exertion not only hurts the eyes and other muscles but can damage related organs, like the liver, spleen (digestion), and kidneys.

Eye strain hurts your liver

Everybody knows that using the eyes too much causes eye strain and vision deterioration. TCM says other organs are affected as well.

There's a close link between the eyes and liver as the meridians that pass through the liver also reach the eyes.

"Liver opens into the eyes," as the Yellow Emperor says. Good eyesight requires smooth energy circulation in the liver and rich blood sent from that organ.

That's why TCM doctors always prescribe medicine or foods that nourish the liver in the case of eye problems.

Eye strain also taxes the liver, the organ that dominates blood production and keeps blood rich.

Too much sleep saps energy

Though sleep is the best cure for fatigue, lying down for too long isn't good for your health. It doesn't restore energy, it drains it. Smooth energy circulation throughout the body is necessary for the organs to function normally - and that means motion and metabolism.

When you stay in one position for too long, blood and energy circulation is slowed, causing sore muscles. The same thing comes from too much lying down, asleep or not.

Sitting a pain in the butt

A sedentary life, office work and sitting on your backside is a universal urban problem, especially for the white collars and car drivers. When you're tired from other activities, sitting down is important for rest and regaining energy. Muscles are restored and less blood and energy is consumed when you're at rest.

Too much sitting, however, without occasional exercise will hurt the spleen, causing poor appetite or indigestion. In TCM the spleen refers to the digestive system - digesting food and sending energy and blood where it's needed.

A weakened spleen from a low-activity lifestyle can result in insufficient blood and energy circulation, poor metabolism.

Many people who sit on their backsides all the time get fat and some suffer fluid accumulation.

Too much standing hurts kidneys

The lower back and legs support the body's weight to keep us standing. Our legs, pelvis and spine get tired and sore when we stand for too long. The kidneys, too, feel the strain and can be damaged.

Good kidneys are necessary for strong, healthy bones. Only with sufficient kidney energy can we stand straight. People with poor kidney function tend to get bowlegs and spinal curvature earlier than other people.

Too much walking hurts tendons

Walking is a popular exercise for those who want to keep a healthy heart and lose weight. Don't overdo it again and again: You can strain your muscles and tendons and hurt your liver by depriving it of energy through too much walking. The same goes, of course, for running and vigorous exercise. Don't overdo it.

(Shanghai Daily July 1, 2008)

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