Sunday, June 8, 2014

Combating your Desk Job Slouch

There’s no question that the human body is designed to move, but with the rise in desk jobs, we spend more time sitting than moving. And with that, we come across a number of problems: lower metabolisms, low back pain, tight hip flexors, slouching posture, and weak cores among them.

Combat some of the work-related issues in the gym with these moves:

Hunching over your desk/keyboard

This is a huge cause for much of the stress we hold in our shoulders and the poor posture we experience. 

IYTWs over a ball:
You can do these with low weight or no weight, with or without a hold, and with your palms in a number of positions to challenge your muscles. The key is to pinch your shoulder blades and draw them down your back as you lift your arms through the patterns.  This activates the rhomboids rather than the trapezius (which is already well developed in tense shoulders!). Try one to two sets of ten to start and notice how much straighter you stand up after! 

D1/D2 with a band:
These are diagonal patterns that work the shoulders and back complex and can be done in a number of different directions. Stand with the band in your right hand and under your right foot. Bring your hand across your body in a diagonal pattern up towards your left shoulder and return it back to your right side. This is a D1 pattern. You can also do it in reverse, with the band attached up high by your left shoulder and in your right hand, and drawing it down across your body. Sometimes we call these "Wolverines" because it's just like how Hugh Jackman whipped his claws out.

For D2 patterns, stand with the band under your left foot and in your right hand, with your hand by your left pocket. Draw it up across your body diagonally as though you're unsheathing a sword and then return it across your body to your pocket. Again, you can do this move in reverse, attaching the band up high and drawing it low. 

Rowing with a band:
For this, hold two ends of a band that is wrapped around a pole in each hand, pinch your shoulder blades down and back, and draw your elbows towards the wall behind you while keeping your forearms parallel with the floor. 

Stretch it out:
Try a prayer stretch (also called child's pose in yoga) to stretch out your shoulders and back. Start in a table-top position (on hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips) and sit back on your heels. If needed, you can walk your hands out a bit more in front of you once you're seated back. You can also try this with a rotation, where you start with your hands off to one side, and then sit back. You'll feel it more along one side. 

You can also try an upper trap stretch. While standing up straight and looking straight ahead, bring one ear towards your shoulder, then to the other side. To increase the stretch, push the heel of your hand down towards the ground on the side opposite the ear (so if you're dropping your left ear to your left shoulder, push your right hand towards the ground).

A good stretch to loosen up your chest and shoulders is the doorway stretch. Stand in a doorway with your arms bent and step into it. You can change the angle on this one, depending on which fibers are tightest.  

Tight Hip Flexors/Low Back Pain

A little while back, Drew wrote a great article on stretching out hip flexors that become tight from being in a shortened position (as they are when we're sitting). Check it out here.


I'm sure you'll love me for saying this, but planks are some of the best exercises to strengthen the entire core. There are a TON of ways to do them to keep them interesting and fun (go ahead, ask me sometime!) but the best way to start? Try modified planks. These are just like regular planks, but your knees are on the ground instead of your feet, shortening the work load and allowing you to really focus on your form. When you get comfortable with those, you can progress to regular planks and side planks and increase your time! Just make sure you keep that form perfect.

Blog post by Ashley Crosby.

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