If you’re like a majority of Americans, you probably have a job that doesn’t really require a ton of physical exertion. As a result, most of your work can be done from a seated position or at a computer.
And this is no fault of your own. Technology has advanced to the point where the days of back breaking labor are all but gone. Computers and machines do all the heavy lifting now, so you get to kick back and relax.
While this sounds nice in theory, your body actually needs movement in order to stay healthy. The same way a car will rust over and the battery will likely die if you leave it in a driveway for an extended period of time, your body will “rust over” if you don’t move it regularly. So as you can imagine, typical desk or office jobs present a little bit of a problem. Without regular movement you can probably expect to run into mobility issues, achey joints, random aches, muscle atrophy, and decreases in muscular strength.
But good news! This problem is 100% avoidable if you take a proactive approach to moving your body throughout the day. And we’re not even talking about the Crossfit “I-can’t-walk-and-need-to-vomit” type movement. Just simple, low intensity, bodyweight movements.
Take 10 minutes and go through these 5 movements consistently, and we can guarantee you’ll start to feel and move better.
This simple movement might not seem like much, but it’s actually checking off multiple “move well” boxes that offset the effects of long term sitting.
First, this movement requires rotary stability, meaning your core needs to work to prevent you from falling over. This means your abs, obliques, glutes, and hips are all firing to provide you with stability. When these muscles get weak, you’re going to start feeling like a dumpster fire.
Second, this movement is an excellent anti-extension core exercise, as well as a teaching tool to really get your glutes firing. When done incorrectly, the bird dog will have your low back arching like you’re trying out for a Cardi B video. This is not a good look.
When your abs stay tight, it prevents your low back from arching, which leads to better low back health in the long run. Couple this with an intense focus on squeezing your butt on your kicking leg, and now you’ve achieved a solid movement for hip health as well.
This movement is incredible for learning how to stabilize your pelvis and spine while moving your limbs. This ability becomes pretty important when you’re trying to move heavy loads (like groceries, kids, couches, or whatever life throws at you). Lumbopelvic stability is crucial for feeling good and moving well on a day to day basis. And as you might have guessed, sitting on your ass all day can negatively affect this.
To up the ante even further ith the deadbug, try actively pulling your leg towards your chest as you drop the other leg. This will work your hip flexors, a muscle that tends to get weak due to prolonged sitting. Start with your knees bent and try to progress to the more difficult, legs straight version.
Core engaged 90/90 switch
Unless you sit on the floor while you work at your computer, the chances of you internally or externally rotating your hips in your office chair are pretty damn low. However, internal and external rotation at your hip joint are vital for long term health. After all, when it comes to joint heath, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
And when you lose the ability to rotate your hips, you’ll eventually start to move like the 6 million dollar man…. if the budget was $20.
Hip rotation is crucial for things like walking, running, performing a sexy looking squat, and warding off nagging low back pain. So as you can imagine, being cramped up in your office chair all day will eventually turn your velvety, rotating hips into immobile, one dimensional pegs.
Tall kneeling hip CAR (controlled articular rotation)
One aspect of mobility that most “average” people (people not immersed in the fitness industry) tend to be unaware of is that strength plays a huge role in joint mobility. If you lack the muscular strength or motor control to actively control a joint through its available range of motion, your body can actually increase tone, or tension, around that joint in an attempt to increase stability.
This often results in the “feeling tight” sensation that most people try to remedy with endless bouts of stretching… and it rarely works.
CAR’s have you actively taking a joint through the biggest range of motion available to it. When you learn to control your joint through all of your available range of motion and actually make your muscles work, your brain “releases the parking brake” so to speak, and your mobility increases.
The important thing to remember with CAR’s is to control the motion with no compensatory motion elsewhere. If your goal is to move the hip, everything else needs to be braced and tight.
“Maintain the squat, train the deadlift.” – Gray Cook, world renowned physical therapist
If you don’t know who Gray Cook is, he’s a pretty big name in the fitness industry. Typically when he speaks, you should listen. And this instance is no different.
When it comes to training, the deadlift should probably reign supreme when it comes to absolute strength. It’s arguably got more “functional” carryover to the real world. You’ll find yourself picking stuff up off the floor more often than you’ll put something on your back to squat it. This is why Gray says to train the deadlift, but maintain your ability to squat.
The ability to perform a quality squat usually correlates with increased quality of life. It’s a resting position for countless people worldwide, it’s the position you were born in, and carries over to a wide variety of real world applications and activities. For this reason alone, the ability to perform a bodyweight squat without compensating (heels come over the ground, knees cave in, torso collapses forward, etc) should be a priority for everyone.
Aaaand if you haven’t guessed by now, sitting in your cushy office chair all day reeeeally affects your ability to drop it like it’s hot.