Countering the Desk Job “Slump”

Since moving to LA, I have returned to a full time desk job in order to aid my finances while continuing to find better footing.

It’s been years since I’ve been in a traditional desk job setting.  I admit, I’ve been spoiled the last 5 years being in a career that allowed me to constantly move, stretch, and have NYC’s top physical therapists and chiropractors look over my every ache and pain.

But saying a momentary goodbye to that former lifestyle was part of the deal in moving my life across the country.  So here I am, working 40 hour weeks – loving my new job and coworkers, but already feeling the creaking and cracking of my vertebra.  Only two weeks into my new position, and I already feel a pinching at the back base of my neck, and an over stretching to the muscles in the front.

One might feel the solution is simple – “just stop slouching, why don’t you?”  However, as easy as that option might appear, the fact of the matter remains – my muscles are not conditioned to sustain proper posture throughout an 8 hour work day.  In all actual truth, I simply lack the strength.

That’s not to say I’m not strong – if anything, my body’s physical capacity for strength is one thing I’ve steadily relied on.  It’s more so to say, my body is out of practice for the current demands being placed upon it.

Not that sustaining proper alignment while working a typical desk job should actually be anyone’s goal – let’s face it, we all sit to much and it’s the reason for the majority of the world’s aches and pains.  However, accepting the fact that desk jobs make up about 80% of current labor market – it appears it is a devil the modern world is just going to have to contend with.

Now, many of my contemporaries would encourage you to complete your desk work from a standing or half-kneeling position.  However, as trendy as the standing or kneeling desk movement might be, let’s be completely honest that the chances of them actually becoming a widespread reality are slim to none.  In truth, out of the dozens of peers I’ve known to invest in those specialized desks, there is only one who has kept with the practice like a religion.  Obviously she is mobile and impressive AF, but her diligence is something few can actually match.  Quite frankly, I’m not even sure she is completely human.

Therefore, for all us actual homo sapiens – should your own reality surround a desk job such as mine, allow me to recommend a handful of warm ups/correctives that, when performed regularly, will aid in supporting your musculoskeletal system and having you feeling and moving so much better…

1. Crocodile Breathing

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Lying prone (re: on your belly) – rest your forehead on the backs of your hands.  Keeping the chin tucked, give long full inhales and exhales.  If needed – place a small weight on your lower back (I’m talking no more than 2.5lbs).  This is not a strength exercise – the placement of the weight is just giving you feedback of where to send your breath.  Focus on breathing low into the belly, not high into the chest.  Set a timer and stay here for 5-10 minutes.

2. Prone Prop

For this one, I am going to share a video demo from one of my greatest mentors Dr. Kathy Dooley.  I was reminded of this position two weekends ago when I attended Dr. Dooley’s Immaculate Dissection seminar in Newport.

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As you’ll see in the video, Dr Dooley explains the position beautifully – it’s easy to understand why this woman has been SUCH an inspiration to me over the years.

3. Rolling

Starting lying flat on your stomach – I need you to pretend your legs are inactive, dead weight (this will be harder than it sounds).  Lifting your head and looking to the direction you want to roll, reach with the opposite arm.  Should you get stuck in the roll, do NOT use your legs for assistance.  Rather – pause, take a big inhale, and continue to reach as you give a full exhale.  You should reach a point where gravity takes over and you “plop” over onto your back.  Be sure to reverse it and go the other direction 😉

3 rolls each way and back will work wonders.

4. Dying Bug

I give a pretty solid verbal demo on Dying Bugs in the video.  However, one thing I neglect to mention – be sure to keep your head resting on the ground.  Do not lift your head – it will strain your neck.  Keep your neck relaxed by focusing on keeping your chin “tucked.”

You can never do too many dying bugs, but 16-20 total is a great place to start 🙂

5. Hip Flexor Stretch

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Finding 90 degrees on the front and back legs – squeeze the glutes and find a subtle stretch in the front of the hip of whichever leg is down.  Be sure to keep shoulders over hips, and hips over knees in one long line.  Stretching the hips forward into an extended crescent moon shape such as in yoga practice is NOT what we are going for here.  We want to find the stretch from a stable, neutral position.  If you want to further the stretch – reach the arm up and over to help further engage some of the intercostal muscles as pictured.  If you need extra assistance, feel free to tuck the back toes.

 

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