Do you spend a lot of time at a desk?
Does your work trap you indoors?
Have you got that “office worker hunch”?
You know the one. Picture a guy, slightly overweight and sporting a pale fluorescent indoor tan. He walks with a slow shuffle, his pelvis tipped forward as though in a chair, his shoulders rounded like a dime store Quasimodo. The backs of his hands face forward as he walks. They’re looking for a keyboard to tickle, even after hours. All work and no exercise has made this guy chair-shaped. And it’ll only get worse.
Remember pulling faces as a kid, and some dull adult saying — almost on cue — “keep doing that and your face will stay that way!” Well, the office hunch really can lock itself in.
The good news is, you can prevent it from being permanent by taking a couple minutes a day for some simple mobility exercises.
Why does office work make me chair-shaped?
It has to do with the way your body adapts to stress.
The body has a remarkable ability to adapt to environmental stressors. We know this from weight training. Repeat a movement often enough with a challenging weight and the body grows new muscle. It adapts in such a way that the movement becomes easier to execute. Trainers refer to this as SAID: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.
The thing most people miss, the flip-side of the SAID principle, is that everything we do causes adaptations in the body, whether we want it to or not — it doesn’t just happen with weight training.
If you sit at a desk all day, it becomes easier and easier to stay that way. Your muscles and connective tissues adapt and the fascia becomes thick and leathery until your body actually becomes chair-shaped.
You’ve seen that, right?
No, it isn’t normal or inevitable. You just have to release the tissues in the opposite direction to restore balance and maintain good health. If you don’t, aches and pains are only the beginning of your problems.
If you’ve worked with any of our training programs, you know that we address this in two ways. We include specific joint mobility warm ups for each exercise circuit, using movements carefully programmed to prime the joints involved in that day’s effort. And we also include specific fascial stretching designed to compensate for the work in the program, to release these tensed tissues and restore their natural resting length so overcompensations don’t develop.
What about the “office hunch”?
Oh yeah, what about that broken husk of a man at the start of this article? That guy beaten down by work? There’s hope for him too, and thousands like him.
It starts with mobilizing the area in question, to break up fascial adhesions and get blood flow and nutrients back into that locked up area.
Here’s a simple exercise you can do to get started. It’s called the Shin Box Switch, and it’s an excellent way to mobilize your lower back and hips after a tough day at the office.
You can also bust out a few reps of this movement throughout your day to keep the tension away. Cause let’s face it… No one wants to look like that guy.