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So You Say You’re a Desk Jockey

If you are like me (and most of the world), you may now find yourself spending a lot more time sitting in front of your computer or laptop at home.

Many of us have (very quickly) been transitioned into desk jobs.  Congratulations, you can now affectionately call yourself a “Desk Jockey.”

With this sudden shift in your work environment and work duties, you are probably spending more time sitting and less time moving.  This is, of course, dependent on your previous job and job duties.

Your body is not used to this.

Especially if, just one month ago, your job consisted of walking the halls of a hospital, or walking around a classroom or school, or walking around a medical office.

You may be starting to notice some discomfort in your back, hips, or neck after sitting at your desk for any amount of time.  This is because you haven’t been changing positions as frequently as you are used to or need to.

The body is designed to MOVE.  When it doesn’t move – muscles get tight, joints get stiff, and you begin to feel achy and uncomfortable.

The best way to fight this discomfort and prevent it from getting worse, is to MOVE and move often!

I have included a few simple exercises, stretches, and movements that you can perform throughout your day.  These are exercises that can be performed while sitting at your desk or standing near your desk.

And they all promote movement!  Yessss!!! (Fist pump)

1. Pelvic Tilts

– This is one of the best exercises for managing hip and/or low back discomfort.  While sitting at your desk, you simple rock your pelvis back and forth.  Think of pushing your belly button toward your computer as you go forward and “tucking your tail” as you go backward.  This movement gets your low back, hips, and pelvis moving all at ones.  Move as far as you can forward and backward without discomfort.  As you loosen up, you can try to move more in BOTH directions.  It is important to work in both directions.  This movement can also be performed while standing or lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.


2. Scapular Retraction

– While sitting at your desk, sit up nice and tall (no slouching).  Try to squeeze your shoulder blades “down and back”, keeping your shoulders down (away from your ears).  You can also think of putting your shoulder blade into the opposite back pocket of your pants.  This can also be done while standing up.


3. Levator Stretch

– While sitting at your desk, sit up nice and tall (no slouching).  Gently, turn your head 45 degrees to one side then slow look down at your hip.  You should feel a gentle stretch down the back and side of the other side of your neck.  Example: if you look toward the left, you should feel the stretch down back and right side of your neck.  It’s important to keep the opposite shoulder down.  To help with this, you can hold onto the bottom of your seat with the opposite arm.  Example: if you look toward the left, grab the bottom of your seat with your right hand.  Any stretch should be held for 20-30 seconds, without pain.  You can also do this stretch while standing.


4. Trunk Rotation

–  While sitting at your desk, sit up nice and tall (no slouching) and scoot to the edge of your seat.  Cross your arms across your chest, and gently turn your chest and shoulders to the right, then to the left.  Go back and forth, as far as you can without discomfort.  As you loosen up, you will be able to move more into each direction.  This can also be done while standing.


5. Sit-To-Stand

– This is another great exercise for someone that spends a lot of time sitting during the day.  Simply, stand up and sit down from your desk chair.  Do this 5 times, without using your hands to stand up.  I do NOT recommend doing this in a rolling chair!  This will help to get your hips, knees, and ankles moving.  This will also get your blood flowing and your heart pumping.


General Tips for Working at a Desk:

– I generally recommend to do any or all of these exercises every hour.  Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to get up and move.  No more than 10 reps at a time.  Each should be gentle, easy, and pain-free.  
– Don’t stress on posture!  There is not a “best posture”!  I will repeat: There is not a “best posture”!  The more important thing to focus on, is not staying in ONE position for too long – that is when you start to feel discomfort.  It is okay to slouch.  It is okay to sit up tall.  Just don’t do it for long periods of time.  Move from one position/posture to the next throughout the day. 
 – Stand up!  Sit at your desk for an hour.  Then (if able) move your laptop to a higher surface and stand for an hour while you work at your computer.  Stagger your feet so that one foot is forward and one foot is backward.  Then switch your feet.  Again, change positions often.
 – Take a walk!  Take a lap around your house every time that your timer goes off to do your exercises.  This will also get the blood flowing, move your joints, and wake up your muscles.  

For more exercises, you can visit my website More Exercises Here.  You can search through different exercises based on body part.

Remember, Motion is Lotion!!!

Our bodies were meant to move!  When we stop moving (like sitting at a desk for any amount of time) we start to feel discomfort and stiffness.  By adding simple movements to your daily routine, you lubricate your joints to move better, awaken your muscles, and give some love to your cardiovascular system.

Keep Moving!  Your body will thank you for it!

These are just suggestions of some very general and simple exercises and stretches that you can try.  None of these should cause more pain or discomfort.  If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort that is not improving or is prohibiting you from completely daily tasks or activities, you should contact a medical professional.

I can be that medical professional!

I am now able to complete Physical Therapy Evaluations and Treatments virtually via Telehealth.  By using Zoom, I can assess your movement, instruct you in exercises that are specific to your needs, and getting you back on the right track.

If you would like a more individualized program with more specific exercises to address your needs, please contact me at Jodi@motusvitapt.org or give me a call at 813-344-2787.

You can also visit my website (Motus Vita Physical Therapy) for more information.

If you are interested in receiving more information like this, you can join my email list HERE.


photo credit Abbey Saxton Photography

Disclaimer: All written and filmed content on this blog is meant as instructional and informational. The author of this blog is not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about an injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied on this blog.

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