Overcoming the Physical Demands of a Desk Job

As many of us are experiencing, one of the hardest things on our bodies is to sit for an extended period of time. This is greatly exacerbated by working at a computer while sitting all day. In this article, we hope to better inform you of the risks involved in such a job and provide you with the tools necessary to keep your body in the best position as well as a few exercises to undo some of the patterns we hold ourselves in all day.

The caption of the above photo is “Severe Spinal Damage at 0 MPH.” Imagine holding this position for 8 hours a day for 250 or so days a year. Take notice of all the joints that are constantly flexed. Look at the position of the shoulders. Notice how they are not on the side of the body, but out in front of the chest. These are all patterns which your body will begin compensating for! The neck and upper back erector muscles will begin splinting and turning into harnesses instead of functional muscles. The shoulder blades will roll out to the side of the body. The muscles in the arms will eventually adhere together, and the pelvis will lock down.

So how can we prevent such damage? Since changing professions is not ideal for most people, it is vitally important that you protect yourself. Proper sitting is the first step. To elaborate first, you should tuck into your chair, pushing as deep into the seat as you can. Make sure that you are sitting on those two little bony knobs which are nicknamed the Sit Bones. Once you feel your sit bones, rise up from your pelvis until your head is resting comfortably above your shoulders. Ideally, your shoulders should be in line with your ears. Make sure the chair back is locked and your feet are on the ground. If your desk and chair allow, you should position yourself and your equipment such that all of your limbs are at a 90 degree angle (hips, knees, elbows, and ankles).

Steps to Sit Properly:
1. Tuck into the chair
2. Place pressure onto the sit bones
3. Rise up from the pelvis
4. Rest your head on top of your shoulders

Even after making the effort to sit properly, it is still important to undo the tension and body positioning from the day. A simple exercise that helps tremendously is walking. This version, however, is a little different in that it is more of a mental exercise. Instead of just merrily walking from point A to B or for a set time on a treadmill, focus should be instead on the pelvis. While walking, focusing on specific joints or areas of the body will greatly enhance what you could normally gain from a casual stroll. First, walk with your pelvis tilted upwards. Think about how a gunslinger would be positioned after firing from the hip. Next, pay attention to your stride. Try, with each step, to make your back stride a little longer until both forward and back strides are equal. This will help stretch that hip that’s been flexed all day! Lastly, if you have the focus left over, feel your feet. Are you putting even pressure from side to side and from front to back? Are your toes all touching the bottom of your shoe? Try to have even pressure all over your feet!

Beginning Walking Exercise:
1. Tilt pelvis upwards (gunslinger)
2. Take even strides (forward/back strides)
3. Feel your Feet

Aside from the advice in this article, we highly recommend finding a good yoga class and of course regular massage to keep yourself in good working order. If you follow this advice and would like to step up the walking exercise, let us know and we can tailor something specifically fit for your needs.

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