Do you struggle to get get full range of motion on your press? Do you feel a deep “stretch” in your forearms every time you do a frog stand? Do your wrists hurt every time you do a handstand? Do you have trouble keeping your chest tall on a front squat? Do your shoulders consistently round forward with your body row?
A large majority of the population is “lucky” enough to have a job that requires countless hours of staring at a computer, slouching at a keyboard, and reaching out toward a mouse all while cranking their neck to balance a phone between their ear and shoulder. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about! Although these “outstanding” postural habits are what bring home the bacon , they also bring about tight thoracic spines, horrible wrist mobility and locked up hips.
Now I know I can’t ask you to quit your job that is causing these postural problems and mobility issues…but will you? Ha…kidding! I am going to ask you to make sure that every 15 minutes you get up to lengthen your hip flexors, pull your shoulders back to where they are supposed to be and maybe even…yes I’m going to say it…stretch! Below are a few helpful mobility exercises you can do DAILY (multiple times is ideal) to help improve your mobility which will result in better performance in the gym and just make you feel better! Worth a shot, right?!?
1) Wrist Rotations: Rotate your wrists 10x counter clockwise and 10x clockwise.
2) Desk Planche Position: Standing, put palms flat on desk with fingers facing forward. Keep arms locked out (elbow pit forward), rock body forward until you feel a good stretch…stay here for 1 min (rock more forward if you can throughout the minute).
3) Desk Reverse Planche Position: Same staring position as above but with fingers facing toward body. This time, keeping arms locked out and plans flat, rock away from desk and hold for 1 min.
1) Chair Death Stretch: We all know the death stretch! This one is the similar but doable at your desk. Kneel on one knee with foot up on chair. The other leg out in front with foot on floor and knee at 90 degrees. Ideally your back shin is vertical (like on the wall), but if that isn’t doable then just scoot your knee out a bit (or chair back a bit). Hold for 1 min each leg.
2) Kneel: Simply “take a knee”. Same position as above, but back foot is on floor instead of on chair (this may be more ideal for the ladies wearing skirts). From here tighten abs and simultaneously press back hip forward (making sure not to arch back). Note, you can still work from this position if you’re high enough to be in good position for your keyboard (just remember to switch legs). WAY better than sitting in a chair.
1) Sit Up Straight: Simple…don’t slouch! While sitting at your desk (or anywhere for that matter), make sure you are sitting tall, shoulder blades are back and down, and chest is open.
2) Behind the Back: Interlace fingers behind your back. Roll shoulders back. From here, if you can gently lift your hands up WITHOUT your shoulders rolling forward, do so until you feel a stretch. If you can’t then just stay with hands interlaced and shoulders back. Hold for 1 min.
In addition to these stretches, keeping a softball at your desk is a must. Now, not so you can toss it up in the air while thinking about what you’re going to add to your presentation, but rather using it more for mobility purposes. While sitting at your desk (or in your car if you travel a lot for work), put the ball between your hamstring/glute and the seat. You can even get crazy and move your body around a bit to feel the ball “massaging” those muscles. Make sure you switch sides. Using this same technique you can use the ball on your low back and upper back while sitting at your desk as well.
Our muscles are supposed to “glide” by one another. When we sit for too long in one position our muscles start to laminate together and become one massive unit of glued up gunk. Do your job outside of the gym to make your muscles able to do what they are supposed to do in the gym. That will make the rest of your life way happier!
Another thing to take into consideration is getting set up with a standing desk. Studies across the board show that people who switch to standing desks feel better and are healthier. Even if you hit the gym everyday, if you spend the majority of your day sitting you are at more of a risk for health issues than if you did not. If a standing desk isn’t in the near future, start thinking about your posture while sitting. Scoot your chair in so you’re not reaching/rounding forward, have both feet flat on the floor, sit up tall and off the back of your seat so you have to actually engage your core muscles, pull shoulder blades back and down, keep neck neutral. You may have to adjust your desk set up to make this all happen, but I promise that you won’t regret it.
As a coach and someone that’s never had a desk job, I am very fortunate to not have to sit in one spot all day. However, I still do have a set up at home where for the few hours I do have to spend on the computer I am in an ergonomically sound position. If you have any other strategies you have found that work for you, please include them in the comment section.