Combating The Effects Of Your Desk, Part 3

In Part 1, we discussed the physical effects of desk-sitting on your posture, mobility, and more.  In Part 2, I talked about simple ways to fight these negative adaptations throughout the day.  This time, we’ll get more in depth into corrective mobility and activation drills you can use in the gym (or at home) to further counteract the effects of your desk.

In most cases, there are any number of options to address each problem area.  Where possible, I will present them as a progression, with the least advanced leading into the more advanced.  These will be listed as numbered lists.  As your mobility improves, advance up the chain. Non-progression items will be bulleted.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, a type of self-myofacial-release, is like a deep tissue massage that you give yourself.  It loosens the connective tissue around muscles and the adhesions within the muscles themselves (little knots).  The result is better mobility and less pain all over!

Upper Body Corrective Drills

These drills target several components of upper crossed syndrome (caveman posture): hunched shoulders, poor thoracic (upper back) extension, and forward head posture.

Thoracic Extension

  1. Broomstick Pec Stretch

  2. Quadruped Extension Rotation

  3. Side Lying Extension Rotation
  4. Side Lying Windmills

Cervical Flexion

  • Static Trap Stretch
    trap stretch 
  • Static Levator Stretch
    levator stretch 
  • Quadruped Chin Tucks

Lower Trap Activation

  • Scapular Wall Slides

Lower Body Corrective Drills

These drills attack the causes of lower crossed syndrome – anterior pelvic tilt and excessive lordosis (lower back arch) – as well as poor ankle mobility.

Ankle Dorsiflexion

  1. Wall Ankle Mobilizations
  2. Multi-Planar Wall Ankle Mobilizations
    (same as above but with added reps at 30 degree angles to both sides of the mid-line of the foot)

Hip Extension

  1. Wall Hip Flexor Mobilizations
  2. Rear-Foot-Elevated Hip Flexor Mobilizations

Hip Flexion (Hamstrings)

  1. Decreasing-Width Floor Touches
    (Start with feet well wide of shoulders, and touch toes.  Decrease width of feet for each rep until they are touching.)
  2. Multi-Planar Hamstring Mobilization

Glute Activation

  1. Glute Bridges
    Glute Bridge 
  2. Single Leg Glute Bridges
    (See B above)
  3. Single Leg Double-Elevated Hip Thrusts

Integrated Corrective Exercises

These more-advanced drills combine several movements into one exercise that improves most of the desk-induced horrors we’ve discussed at the same time.  They are the most difficult but also the most time efficient.  They also transfer the most readily to movements you are likely to be using in the gym (improving your squat performance for instance).

  • Spiderman with Hip Lift & Overhead Reach
  • Squat to Stand  & Overhead Reach

Sample Beginner Mobility Circuit 

While that may seem like a lot, it’s fairly easy to put together a sample mobility circuit that can be finished in under 15 minutes.  I recommend performing the circuit every day, but before every workout would be a great place to start (providing you work out at least 3 times per week).

  1. Foam Rolling (all over!)
  2. Broomstick pec stretch (8 reps per side)
  3. Static Trap Stretch (20 seconds per side)
  4. Scapular Wall Slides (10 reps)
  5. Wall Ankle Mobilization (8 reps per leg)
  6. Wall Hip Flexor Mobiization (8 reps per side)
  7. Decreasing-Width Floor Touches (8 reps)
  8. Glute Bridges (12 reps)
  9. Spiderman with Hip Lift & Overhead Reach (5 reps per side, alternating sides)

Chances are, you will be moving better and feeling more limber than you have in years after only 15 minutes.

Next time, I’ll finish up this series with a post on specific strength training tips and strategies to complete your victory over your desk.  Stay tuned.