The 3 Things That Every Desk Worker Needs To Practice Daily To Avoid Injury

 In For Men, For Women, Pain And Injury Prevention, The Everyday Athlete

Key points:

  • Everyone can practice these concepts. Anytime. Anywhere.
  • How and why you need to do them.
  • Understand the value of frequent quality self-care.

In the past decade my career has ebbed and flowed into different areas of health and wellness and has now evolved into focusing on injury rehabilitation, mobility and joint restoration and movement re-education – infused with a boat load of neurology.  Naturally, I started filming quick videos for my clients to remind them how to do certain movements so they felt competent and confident when doing their “homework” without me. So one day I decided, “why not share this with everyone I know in case it helps others?”

The first video I posted got over 3 thousand views in 24 hours. Okay, okay that isn’t a lot of famous people but for little ol’ me, that was a LOT. That video turned into requests for more videos and then organically Death of the Desk” was created. In order to combat the inevitable lifestyle that most people endure; working in a fluorescent-lit office, slouched over in a cubicle and tempted with endless processed foods.   I starting asking friends who worked at Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and other companies.

Guess what employees said? “I don’t want to get sweaty.” “I don’t want to workout near my boss.” “I don’t want to change my clothes.” “Since we can’t get away from working on our computers, it’s not realistic or smart to pretend like we can.” Let’s do what we can with what we have.  You don’t need much. Just a few minutes here and a couple minutes there and this accumulates to more pain-free days and less irritation (yes, it’s true). Guess what you DON’T NEED TO DO?  Get sweaty. Workout near your boss. Change your clothes.  You’re welcome.

The 3 Things That Every Desk Worker Needs To Practice: 

#1 Lengthened Spine 

A neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine — cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) — are present and in good alignment. This is the strongest position for the spine when we are standing or sitting, and the one that we are made to move from.

Unfortunately, for years, we have all heard “shoulders back and down!” but this creates over correction of the issue versus addressing everything else needed to create a nice lengthened spine. In my experience, working with thousands of people, I can now say that keeping the chin parallel to the floor and the pelvis in neutral are by far the hardest to actually do.

Think of stacking your vertebrae on top of each other like legos all in a nice smooth line and in between each leg you want a lot of even space. If you think of lengthening up towards the sky, the other stuff will reflexively fall into place. Instead of thinking of 5 different cues, like this:  1. Shoulders back and down 2. Tuck your pelvis 3. Double chin 4. Ribs down 5. Relax your jaw. Try just one really effective cue of lengthening your body up through the crown of the head. Learn how HERE.

It takes forever to get a good signal. A lengthened spine is just like high-speed DSL. The faster the signal, the better the performance. A lengthened spine is better for performance. Having poor posture is like driving a Ferrari on a road with potholes. You can’t actually accelerate or test out performance. Find a long stretch of country highway and you can unload all the horsepower! Now, lengthen away you amazing human you!

#2 Breathing

Try not to focus on inhaling. It is actually better for you to focus on exhalation, the inhale will come naturally. Here are a couple drills that are easy to implement and have lasting benefits when practiced consistently: In for 2 seconds through the nose, out for 6 seconds through pursed lips. 2-3 minutes to start. This one is a bit more challenging at first so if you need to go for 2 seconds instead of 4, please, by all means, do that. It’s called 4X4 breathing!

Why? Your lungs are a passive organ. They literally rely on movement of the muscles surrounding them to make them move and help them inhale and exhale. Did you know you should be able to feel your ribs expand 360 degrees like a balloon? Did you know that you could breathe only through your belly and not your chest if you trained that way? Try it and let me know if you can. If you don’t practice good breathing, you are creating weak muscles for your lungs (no one wants that!). If you are always in a slouched position, you are making it more challenging for your body to do what is was designed to do. Breathe in a neutral long spine!

From the breathing masters of The Buteyko Method: Correct breathing is essential to good health. Optimizing your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels will provide great health benefits. It offers a quality of life previously thought impossible. The Postural Restoration Institute know a lot of good things about breathing, so check them out too! They love this drill for the Everyday Athlete.

The Postural Restoration Institute know a lot of good things about breathing, so check them out too! They love THIS drill for the everyday athlete.

#3 Move Often

Try not to freak out. I am not asking you to workout for an hour. Just spend 2 minutes of your day to focus on YOU. You can do this, I promise. Here are a couple of our favorites drills that are easy to integrate and have continuing results when practiced often:
The laundry list of benefits of moving often will make you blue in the face. Can we just agree that you always feel better after you do some type of movement? If you’re a competitive person as I am sure you are since you are reading this blog, think of it like this: the person next to you at work is slouched over like Quasimodo and you are practicing lengthening your spine, breathing and moving often.
The signals going up and down your spinal cord to and from your brain are moving more efficiency than theirs. So in that moment, you could say you are literally smarter than them. Their signals have to go through a construction zone when yours don’t! YAY! Congrats you sexy tall-spined individual! Not to mention you create dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.

A Great Scenario:

You’re sitting there and it’s 3 pm on Tuesday and you decide to answer one more email and then lengthen up, breathe intentionally for 5 breaths and then do 5 ankle circles on each foot, then get back to work. BOOM. Less than 2-minutes of inwards focus and you just created change in your body and awareness you didn’t have before. You are awesome. I want to squeeze you.

You might be the next Steve Jobs. So my gift to you is feeling good so that you can focus on what you love and not your nagging low back. The world needs you to do what you were meant to do. It is a disservice to you and everyone around you if you don’t deliver your message. My message is to help you get out of pain. Go on, go ahead and do it.
This blog was created exclusively for The Everyday Athlete (you) and goes out to all the Strength Matters followers and the amazing crew at Strength Matters. We are honored to contribute to your community and love all that you stand for. Thank you for all that you do.
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The 3 Things That Every Desk Worker Needs To Practice Daily To Avoid Injury
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The 3 Things That Every Desk Worker Needs To Practice Daily To Avoid Injury
Death of the desk. Sitting is becoming one of the main injury epidemics of the 21st Century. In today's article discover the 3 things you need to do right now to reduce the risk of injury in other parts of your life.
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