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View Full Version : Strategies for sitting down all day and not destroying my body


Sam Cannons
12-11-2007, 07:43 PM
I have just started a new job were i sit down for 9-10hrs a day !! I have been in it for 3 weeks now and have already notice some slight back pain (lower right side) and so strength loss is squating (a couple of kilos). Now i follow a pretty good mobility warm up based off MM and some pavel/sonnon stuff and i stretch usually every second workout for about 15 min mostly hit hammies and hip region. Now apart from quiting (i probly will anyway) what else can i do to avoid these problems. Workout wise i follow the PM WOD with some BJJ and gymnastics.

Thanks guys and gals

Steven Low
12-11-2007, 08:06 PM
Do you absolutely have to sit down?

If so, I would make yourself some kind of notes that tell you to fix your posture. Once you get used to doing it you try to fix it a lot which helps significantly, and also after you start fixing it you can tell because if you have khyphosis you generally have a sore neck as well as rhomboids as you try to fix yourself up. Lower back back should go away with a straightened spine because it loads it properly (assuming it's not an underlying condition).

Greg Everett
12-11-2007, 08:16 PM
I finally broke down and bought one of those foam lumbar support pads for my office chair because the reality is that I sit for hours and hours every day and that's not likely to change soon. I've known forever that my lumbar spine was in some degree of flexion most of that time, and I don't imagine that contributes much to its health. So aside from trying to get up and move as much as possible during the day, I'd consider one of those things to at least mitigate the problems of the actual sitting.

Nikki Young
12-11-2007, 08:59 PM
I got a lumber support pillow for my mum to use after she slipped a disc in her low back a while ago and the pain eased. When she started to sit for too long her low back would start to hurt a lot. She first used a roll of bubble wrap she found when we where in a stationary store because she couldn't find a proper pillow, it worked well until all the bubbles popped! I got her one similar to this, a bit bigger http://www.safetyandmobility.com.au/ProductPopup.php?id=467 she uses it and doesn't have back pain, so i can only presume it helps with keeping good posture (plus sitting up-right and not hunched over).

Allen Yeh
12-12-2007, 03:47 AM
So aside from trying to get up and move as much as possible during the day.

Bam! I've found that even pushing up with the arm rests a few times is enough. I'd also recommend hip flexor stretching when possible.

What Steven said is important as well, adjust your desk to make sure you aren't sitting over your keyboard all hunched over. Make sure you are putting your neck in weird positions to look at your monitor. Make sure you aren't reaching weirdly for things i.e. mouse...etc

Garrett Smith
12-12-2007, 05:31 AM
I suggest standing computer work stations, specially made or jury-rigged.

Mike ODonnell
12-12-2007, 06:00 AM
Besides a lumbar support chair and getting up every 30min....on your off time you will need to counteract the issues from prolonged sitting. Namely spinal deloading and stretching the lower back and hamstrings. Also check posture as it is hard to keep good form while sitting on a computer or phone all day (Bring a small band to work and exercise retracting back your scapulas) Keep up the mobility work outside of work and if your back starts to hurt just lay on the ground, flatten your back with your hips rotated forward and your feet up on something like a few pillows at a 90deg angle.....or even better yet get an inversion table/gravity boots to relax with. In a sense just make sure you don't digress down that path most people end with back pain and go to chiropractors for. Since you are already active and take care of yourself I am sure you will be fine.

Yuen Sohn
12-12-2007, 11:30 AM
Yeah, starting a desk job was the shits and the pits for my lower back as well. When I started working in an office after college, I had some pretty bad and frustrating back pain that eventually lasted many years.

Some great advice given already, so I'll just mention what worked for me:

-I got a new height-adjustable chair and set it to the lowest possible setting so that I never had to hunch over to type or look at the screen. It also has fairly good lumbar padding, so I think I tend to maintain decent posture, even after a 12 hour day.

-I spend as much time out of the office NOT sitting or standing...at home I read, draw, surf the internet on the floor, lying on my stomach.

-I make sure to stretch out the hamstrings, as mine get pretty tight.

-Of course doing quality exercises (squats, pulls, etc), which I know you're already aware of.

So far so good. Haven't had significant pain for a good year now, and actually the back is feeling pretty darn healthy nowadays.

I've been looking into getting a standing workstation as Garrett mentioned. And as a long-term goal, that cattle and coffee farm in Costa Rica is sounding pretty attractive:)

Gant Grimes
12-12-2007, 12:40 PM
It seems a small thing, but take your wallet out of your hip pocket.

William Hunter
12-12-2007, 12:49 PM
It seems a small thing, but take your wallet out of your hip pocket.

"pocket tumor"

Sam Cannons
12-12-2007, 04:56 PM
Thanks for all the responses, some great stuff there i have implemended already and i will get a lumbar foam thing. Whats with the wallet hip pocket thing ?

Frank Needham
12-13-2007, 06:04 AM
Don't know what your work environment is like but mine is pretty casual so I brought some stuff to work. In my office I threw a pair of 35lb dumbbells and a set of parallettes. When I get stiff or sleepy I do some work with them. Sometimes I just flip up and do wall hand stands or frogs or planks, etc. Sometimes I'll throw in some air squats or burpees. There are lots of stairs around that have open treads so I may do some pulls on them. I've also toyed with the idea of getting a door gym but that may attract too much attention. I'm lucky in that my work also takes me out to remote locations that may have some park on the way where I can get in some short type of WO. I still end up spending around 6 hrs per day at the desk and it blows for sure but it won't be that way forever maybe I'll get to be like my boss and be in endless meetings every day of the week ughhh!

William Hunter
12-13-2007, 10:58 AM
Thanks for all the responses, some great stuff there i have implemended already and i will get a lumbar foam thing. Whats with the wallet hip pocket thing ?


Wallet in the back pocket does usually one of two things:

1) steady deep pressure into the glutes, which might lead to sciatic nerve irritation, which quite literally is a pain in the ass

2) mechanically it tilts your pelvis, leading over time to lumbar/SI issues (like a lady walking around with one high heel shoe and one flat)

I think it was in one of McGill's books where he was of the opinion that there was no one correct way to sit, that we should try to shift position fairly regularly to avoid "static overstrain".

daniel doiron
12-13-2007, 11:15 AM
Garrett, Do you suggest a standing work station be used all day, every day or only occasionally ?

John Alston
12-13-2007, 12:46 PM
Replace chair with bosu ball, the only legit use of bosu ball i can think of (that's postable on a family website).

Garrett Smith
12-13-2007, 01:03 PM
Dan,
I think a standing workstation is great all the time. Sitting should be for breaks. Slight changes in standing position would be very helpful along the way, as would wearing non-elevated-heel shoes (or no shoes at all).

Basically the opposite of what we do in general now.

JW Luckett
12-13-2007, 11:35 PM
I don't post much, but I want to also emphasize that you should not sit with your wallet in you pocket. After some very serious sciatic nerve problems, I stopped carrying my wallet, or anything else, in my hip pocket ever.

chris hill
12-19-2007, 04:05 AM
Some great advice given already, so I'll just mention what worked for me:

-I got a new height-adjustable chair and set it to the lowest possible setting so that I never had to hunch over to type or look at the screen. attractive:)

Yoon, thanks, this seems to have helped me considerably

Dan Foster
12-19-2007, 04:01 PM
you can do some grease the grove through out your shift. I just use the bathroom and knock out some pushups and squats during my day.

John Seiler
12-20-2007, 10:00 AM
Stretch your calves as well; especially if you have a tendency to hike your heel up on the feet or legs of the chair.

Jay Cohen
12-20-2007, 12:11 PM
Simple metal adjustable stool works for me.
Helps me keep my back arched, feet flat.

Joe Ariga
12-21-2007, 10:19 PM
I sit at a computer about 10 hours a day as well. I have do some of the things that you have suggested already, but I have found lots more helpful ideas here. I mostly have pains in my hips and calves from time to time, I think I'll be using some ideas here to keep myself from 'injuring' myself in the long run.

I just want to add one more thing: DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

Brad Davis
12-06-2009, 10:06 AM
Resurrecting this thread.

I'm interested in changing my office furniture to a standing workstation. Does anybody have a particular commercially available set in mind? I did some searching online and didn't really care for the choices that I found. I do a combination of typing on a computer, reading, and doing old fashioned manual engineering calculations, probably about equally among the three.

Brandon Oto
12-06-2009, 11:05 AM
I sit all day... in an ambulance. Conquering my anterior knee pain basically took the following:

For acute management:

-- Mucho soft tissue work. Foam roll, massage, tennis balls, etc.
-- Stretch all the damned time. Seriously, at LEAST 2+ times a day (morning and evening), preferably whenever you get a chance. I prefer standing stretches so you can bust them out whenever you get a chance without hauling around a yoga mat at work. For my particular trouble this ended up as the grab-the-heel quad stretch, the cross-one-leg-over-and-lean glute/ITB stretch, and periodically the jam-your-feet-into-a-corner calf stretch. Hams wouldn't be a bad idea either. I used to do this during my shift whenever my knees started hurting; just hop out and stretch a little. Give it a legit 30+ seconds on each stretch, each side.

For maintenance (e.g. for me nowadays)

-- EVERY day (I do this in the morning during coffee), stretch and ice. I bang through the quad and hip stretches above, as well as a quick ham stretch on each side, and usually a quick adductor stretch. Then, the bonus money stretch: hip flexors by putting the foot on my chair behind me and lunging (Greg calls this the suicide stretch or something similarly endearing). All can be done while staring at your email. Follow this with icing both knees via ice cup, which can also be done staring at your email.

-- Before training (especially if you just came from work), same stuff minus the icing.


I know some people also like sitting on a Swiss ball rather than a chair. Check out the Brugger relief position as well (http://coxsackiechiropractic.com/lexercise.html). My personal "relief position," while standing, is clasping my hands behind me, arms straight, and pushing them backward until my entire thoracic spine cracks.

Steven Low
12-06-2009, 11:44 AM
Read this as well.... has stuff that will help:
http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/2009/11/shoes-sitting-and-lower-body-dysfunctions/

I don't particularly know of any good standing workstations. I guess I could ask around or you could just ask your office and say you're having back pain or something and hope they'll replace it for you.

Linda Kardos
12-06-2009, 05:25 PM
I didn't notice it mentioned but I found that a foot rest at the desk helped more than I thought it would ( my feet could not rest on the floor). Also making sure your elbows are are at right angles .

Ergonomic workspace guide (http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/305/language/en-US/default.aspx)

As well as the stretches and squats mentioned I found that relaxing into a deep ATG squat postion from time to time is good.

Allen Yeh
12-07-2009, 03:27 AM
If your glutes have already gone to sleep check out that Glute article by Bret Conteras at T-nation 2-3 months ago, very in depth and with some solid guidelines on how to wake them back up.

I worked a desk job for 10-15 hours/day prior to this and basically move around a lot, don't let yourself sit still for more than 15 minutes, set a timer if needed, all the stretches that Brandon outlined. Lateral lunges, a2g squats, leg swings, ankle mobilization. I keep a tennis ball handy at work so I can roll the bottoms of my feet sometimes. If no one else is in the office I'll roll my calves and glutes as well.

Another good drill I just found recently would be the wall hip flexor mobilization http://ericcressey.com/exercise-of-the-week-wall-hip-flexor-mobilization

Allen Yeh
12-07-2009, 03:30 AM
I didn't notice it mentioned but I found that a foot rest at the desk helped more than I thought it would ( my feet could not rest on the floor). Also making sure your elbows are are at right angles .

Ergonomic workspace guide (http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/305/language/en-US/default.aspx)

As well as the stretches and squats mentioned I found that relaxing into a deep ATG squat position from time to time is good.

Interesting website, I had heard some of those things like feet on the floor, but I recall somewhere that sitting at 90 degrees all the time isn't great for your back? It was a few years ago. It was in regards to driving on how sitting at 90 degrees put a lot of pressure on the lower back or something like that. Hm....

Mike ODonnell
12-07-2009, 09:28 AM
Sitting too much kills my lower back....so I try the following:

Stand as much as possible (when you can of course)
Cardio is more longer walking (especially at an incline to help stretch out those posterior muscles)
Throw in yoga poses throughout the day esp this one: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/491

I also used one of those "swiss balls" a while back as a chair when I was in an office environment, seemed to help and I moved around a bit more.....worse case its a great stress buster as you can beat the crap out of it, or throw it at any office worker who is pissing you off....although #2 may not be proper workplace etiquette.

Tyler Micheli
12-07-2009, 11:36 AM
Resurrecting this thread.

I'm interested in changing my office furniture to a standing workstation. Does anybody have a particular commercially available set in mind? I did some searching online and didn't really care for the choices that I found. I do a combination of typing on a computer, reading, and doing old fashioned manual engineering calculations, probably about equally among the three.

The commercial standing desk market is lacking, that's for sure, but these could be suitable for your needs.

http://www.workriteergo.com/products/sierrapin.asp A quick browse through the price catalog and they're running $600 to well over two grand. Neat, but expensive.

http://www.geekdesk.com/ Quite a bit more reasonably priced.

http://www.relaxtheback.com/workstations-subcategory-6389774 That's a fancy perforated kick-plate..and unnecessary?..and upwards of $2k.

http://www.standupdesks.com/ For the Ben Franklin in us all.

http://twitpic.com/642vi An IKEA desk with custom legs. Probably the cheapest option (it's IKEA, the desk is maybe $25?..though likely not the strongest or most stable desk around).

About the manual engineering calculations, I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear others still do those. Hell, I'm a child of the digital revolution but I still enjoy a good pencil on paper and often prefer its ease to the confines of a computer. It might be my ADHD, but variability is key for keeping the flow of ideas and productivity fresh. I sometimes hunch over a knee height coffee table for the intense and deep thought transfer. But my best feelings come when using a drafting board. It's angled nature is kind to the eyes and minimizes strain on the neck (not craning over a flat table). I've envisioned my ideal work space as a standing drafting board, large enough to accommodate a good spread of ideas/work, adjustable degree of slope so if required a reference book wouldn't slide off when left untouched, and with maybe another panel/platform on each side for a sizable mug of coffee. Within easy reaching distance there would be an assortment of drawers.

Wow, got a little dreamy there on the digression; from the practical to the abstract as I so often go.

A quick google image search yielded this http://www.greenlightoffice.com/office/stationery/21975-safco-height-adjustable-split-level-drafting-table-rectangle-37-x-47-steel-medium-oak-top.html. It's close, but doesn't look to accommodate standing.

A thought: Have a local wood craftsman create a desk tailored to you. It might cost more than the $700 geek desk, but I bet it'd be within the range of the others (sub $2000), and maybe it's more economic than that.. I don't know. Regardless, the quality of the wood, labor, and artistry would yield a solid product, unquestionably leading to a quality much greater than that of the particle board constructs so common to modern consumer goods. It'd be an object worthy of passing on to the offspring.....or go the modded-IKEA route and build a desk on a Saturday morning for a twentieth of the cost.

Brian Baggetta
12-07-2009, 12:23 PM
Question for those who have already implemented the standing thing: how much typing do you do? I have to type a ton, and am not sure about doing so standing up for hours at a time, which I've never tried before.

Arden Cogar Jr.
12-07-2009, 12:52 PM
I'm pretty lucky in that I have a fairly large corner office. In that office, I have a foam roller, a stick, and various balls of different sizes. If stuff acts up, I shut the door and hump all the above. I also have a few kettlebells, an axe handle (for swings for my goofy sport), yoga block, and a swiss ball.

Much of the advice that has been previously covered are essential and I do them daily, when I'm in the office: drink lots of water, pace while dictating, stand while talking on the phone, and do speaker phone conferences while pacing.

One thing that I've found with my chair is as Yoon mentioned is sit it on it's lowest possible setting, then seriously doing a "low rider" lean back to take all stress off my back when I'm forced to sit for prolonged periods (writing briefs/reports/memos/etc).

It's doable. Just gotta find what works for you.

All the best,
Arden

Sean Dunston
12-08-2009, 12:43 PM
Arden -
Your office is more plush than mine!

Great thread.

I spend 45-60 hours per week in my office or in a conference room -- sitting. I will try standing more frequently. I don't have enough room to roll on foam here, but I might buy one of those pad things from my chair.

Thanks for all the input, folks.