One of the biggest issues for everyday office workers mobility. There are many reasons for this including lack of activity, sitting at a desk all day which leads to poor posture, kyphosis and tight hip flexors. Risk of injury increases for this demographic when they start training without proper warm up, poor exercise selection and little to no knowledge of appropriate stretching. Likewise, many people who live a sedentary lifestyle with little to no training also tend to suffer from various injuries such as lower back pain, sciatica and sometimes even shoulder injuries.
By increasing mobility in two key areas, being the hips and shoulders, the risk of injury is significantly decreased. Mobility can be increased with the use of trigger point balls, rollers, power bands and basic stretching.
Kyphosis is excessive curvature of the spine which causes hunching of the back. Traits that are common to kyphotic posture are internal rotation of the shoulders, tight pec minor, tight traps and rounded thoracic region.
Traits that characterize poor hip mobility are tight tensor fasciae latae, tight rectus femoris, weak glute med muscles, which can result in a hip tilt and knee valgus when performing the squat. Gluteal pain is not uncommon, and often poor hip mobility can cause the piriformis muscle to compress the sciatic nerve referring pain into the buttocks and along the path of the nerve down the leg. This is also known as piriformis syndrome. Anterior hip tightness, also referred to as shortening of hip extension, is a very common problem a lot of people face.
We often get asked to make suggestions to busy office workers who want to spend most of their time training and not rolling around doing mobility work. Here is an outline of three stretches that we believe are the most appropriate for desk workers and provide the most value for time invested doing the work.
Trigger Point Release for Piriformis:
Sit on a cricket, lacross or trigger point ball and place one foot on the opposite knee. Roll along the piriformis and stop at trigger points.
To perform the couch stretch, find a wall or sturdy surface you could lean against (i.e. a couch) and lower yourself so you are down on a knee. Place the knee you wish to stretch flush with the wall or couch and plant the opposite foot flat on the ground. Then, using your hands to assist, attempt to push your torso as vertical as possible and attempt to sit as tall as possible. The length of time holding this stretch can vary, but anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute per side would be a great place to start. Switch sides and repeat on the other side.
Corner Pec Stretch or Doorway Stretch
Stand facing the corner of a room. With your palms facing the wall and elbows slightly below shoulder height, place each hand and forearm on each side of the corner. This is often also called a doorway stretch because the movement can be replicated in a doorway.
These exercises are best incorporated into the warm up, and again post training if there is time to spare.