Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Fun and Fit: Yep, I am a workaholic and a busy mom of three, but I still try to get my exercise. I try to get a bike ride and a couple of kettle bell workouts a week. Additionally, I have a workout bench on an incline that I like to do crunches. My problem comes with the endless hours I spend at the desk. I have a recurring pain in my right shoulder blade, on my mousing side, and it affects my shoulder’s range of motion. It usually flares up after I have been working extra hard. I would like some exercises and stretches I could do throughout the day. At my husband’s work, they call them fitness breaks and they are designed to prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs). I am sure almost all of we desk jockey’s could use some pointers about this. Thanks! Kami, Houston, TX
Alexandra: Why are you working extra hard? That’s just wrong. You should go work with your husband since his company gives wife-smooching fitness breaks. But let’s just imagine for a second that you like your job and have no plans to change your good-girl of fitness ways. That’s a flare-up of another color.
1. Check your chair height. If it’s too low, you are over-contracting in the upper traps (shoulder/neck area).
2. Stretches – Do some that lengthen and release the upper torso area.
3. Posture, posture, and oh, posture. Go back and read this so that I don’t have to repeat repeat myself: http://funandfit.org/2010/07/straight-scoop-on-super-posture/
4. Many people like to roll the shoulders forward. Why? I don’t understand that. Most desk jockeys are already over-stretched in the back and over-tight in the front (chest/shoulders). Why do more? So….a mini-desk fitness minute is to roll your shoulders back and down. Don’t roll forward.
5. Lastly, find out if your company has an ergonomic professional on staff. If so, that person can assess your work area to make it more physically functional and supportive.
Kymberly: Let’s also address the “endless hours you spend at a desk,” you “desk jockey” you. Look for opportunities to stand up more and sit less. When you talk on the phone, stand or walk about your work area. At least once an hour get up and out of the sitting position. Walk to the farthest bathroom; get supplies one at a time; forego calling a colleague and go see that person in person. Oooh, I like the alliteration of that last sentence, which rolled so trippingly off the mouse. Gotta go stand up now or risk turning mousy. In short, interrupt your desk jockey pattern. RSI is Really Sucky Inactivity so actively check that you are not in the same position for minutes on end. One great hour of exercise cannot overcome 8 hours of a locked-in sitting position. But if that ergonomic professional advises a hot tub, spa, and barcalounger for your office, go for it! With three kids you deserve some down time. Yeah, Down at the Gym!
Readers: What are your favorite workplace exercises or stretches? What is your favorite work?