Mobility for a Man With a Desk Job

Discussion in 'Other' started by Trevor Williams, Nov 25, 2019.

  1. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Good morning friends,

    I've been a reader of the StrongFirst forums for a couple of years now and this is my first posting. As you can see by the title, I work at a desk for 8-12 hours a day and have for about 8 years now. I am 29 years old and feel that the time I have and continue to spend on my rump at a desk is getting the best of me.

    I have been progressing very well in my kettlebell journey up until about March of this year. I started to get nagging pains in my low back and have felt stiffness and limited mobility in my mid to upper back and my shoulders. This has been a frustrating bit of time for me just like it would be for anyone else - nobody likes to see progress come to an end due to joint pain or mobility issues. Plateaus I can break through - mobility questions is what has brought me here to the community.

    What I am looking for would be some simple mobility work I can do here at my desk to address these nagging pains. I do know that this will not fix my issue outright but I believe it could help with the yoga I do in the morning and my warm up before I train.
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  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Trevor Williams, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

    Those nagging pains could have several causes. The first thing we'd like to know is your training history, both long-term and recent. Have you been following Simple and Sinister? Something else? Tell us about that yoga, and about your warmups.

    It could be that you've simply had your foot on the gas pedal for too long without backing off. It could be that you've increased the weight you use and you have issues with forum and technique that need to be resolved before you go heavier. In other words, I wouldn't necessarily assume a mobility issue is the cause of your problems - might be, might not be.

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  3. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    Not an uncommon issue, especially in this day and age. Many of us do pretty good in the hour or so we train each day; but it's really what we do in the other 23 that counts. If 12 of that is spent at a's tough.

    Common strategies include: Standing desks, getting up and walking around periodically, posture checks, mobility 'snacks' , 'alternative' chair options, treadmill desks.

    Obviously some of these will be dependent upon your workplace environment
    DrFierce, Oscar, Bauer and 1 other person like this.
  4. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    Read "Desk Bound" by Kelly Starrett and see what you want to implement. It is basically what @offwidth proposed.

    I would add neck nods and standing cross crawls to the list (both from Original Strength). Easy to do standing, either in the office or in the bath room. Just 5-20 reps here and there can help.
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  5. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Wow - did not expect a response this quickly!

    My training history pre kettlebell consisted of 15 years of grappling/wrestling coupled up with over training and lack of focus and preparation. I would absolutely expect some of this pain to stem from that. Since moving into kettlebells i would say that 60-75% of my training consists of swings, getups, halos, and prying goblet squats. Simple and Sinister takes up a great majority of my training. Other training would include right of passage. I generally do simple and sinister 3 days per week waving volume and intensity. Some weeks I will do one day of ROP.

    My current body weight is roughly 85-90kg. The weight I am currently using for Simple and Sinister is 24kg for 1 hand swings and get ups. I use 32kg for 2 hand swings. Right of Passage I am pressing and snatching 24kg.

    My yoga routine is very simple. Sun Salutations. I do a variation with a deep low lunge to open up my hips.

    My warmup before I work out is as follows:
    90/90 stretch 3-5 minutes total
    Switching between Up dog and down dog - 3-5 minutes

    Kettlebell halos - 16kg 5-10 reps each side
    Prying goblet squats - 3-5 reps with 3-5 seconds spent prying in the bottom position
    Hardstyle hip bridge - 10 reps holding my 10th rep for 5 seconds with full tension in both feet - 5 seconds with all tension with right leg - then followed by 5 seconds with the left leg
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  6. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    I appreciate this a ton. I will always take a book recommendation seriously. I will check this out ASAP.
    Bauer likes this.
  7. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Welcome @Trevor Williams !

    A focus on breathing practice can help. A relaxing breath when stretching and mobilizing. A good power breath with tension when exercising.

    Getting form checked with and SFG or a video link here is a good idea.

    And... You might want to try 1-3 weeks with no yoga, just to see if that might be the culprit. What you're doing sounds great, but it might be something about how you're doing it that's aggravating your back. Don't worry, you won't lose mobility from the break.
    Bauer likes this.
  8. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Who would have thought yoga could be contributing to my issue? Certainly not me. I will keep this in mind if these issues don't mitigate
  9. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Yeah, I have found that yoga can aggravate my back sometimes. One thing I've modified since making my back strong with kettlebell swings/snatches and barbell squats/deadlifts is that I don't forward flex my back anymore with a sitting or standing forward bend. When I do sun salutations, in the first forward bend, I bend my knees so that I can bring my chest to my legs and keep my back flat. Then inhale and look out with a flat back -- I straighten my legs but raise up high enough that I truly do still keep my back flat. Then dropping the head and torso back down again, I bend the knees again. So either way I'm not flexing the back. Not to say I never put the back in flexion -- in cat/cow, or cobbler pose, or a few others I might, but that's more of a relaxed flex rather than trying to get somewhere with it, if that makes sense.

    The other things that aggravates my lower back is triangle pose. I have to be careful of the position of pelvis relative to the spine. Same thing with kettlebell windmill, either standing, or the transition in and out of tripod position in a get-up.

    Not to say yours is these same things, but just that I learned over time some modifications to make when pursuing strength and mobility at the same time.
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  10. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Anna - this is excellent. Thank you so much.
    Anna C likes this.
  11. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    @Anna C raises an important point: breathing habits and relaxation.

    Do you work at a place where you feel you have to wear a mask? This will lead to tense breathing and tensed muscles. Or do you feel that you can be yourself? This will make a huge sifference.

    The point is: Learning how to relax voluntarily anytime will help you immensely, no matter what the real reason for your discomfort is.

    Stuff like the body scan from MBSR, Progressive Relaxation by Jacobsen or Autogenic Training can be of great help to learn the skill of relaxation. It is more difficult however to relax "on duty".

    That being said, relaxed and lengthened exhalations while letting the jaw and shoulders drop a little can easily be done at the desk and help to minimize the accumulation of sitting induced issues.
    Pantrolyx likes this.
  12. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    What an excellent point. Thankfully, I am able to be every bit of myself at work. I do find a bit of time to get up and stand tall and get a bit of stretch in. I work in a remote office by myself for the most part which does allow me to at least be relaxed while I am here. I appreciate all of the resources.
    Bauer likes this.
  13. william bad butt

    william bad butt More than 300 posts

    I really dont have anything to add to the great comments you have already received. However, concerning the lower back pains specifically... Maybe mobility shouldn't be the goal, but STABILITY. I know very little about yoga. However, on occasion, my wife does it. Some of the poses, to me (a guy with past lower back issues), look like they would cause me harm. When you are doing these excersises, keep in mind that the role of the midsection/lower back is to provide stability, not mobility. Excersises that cause excessive bending may not be helping you. Whereas excersises like planks may be more helpful.
  14. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    This is an excellent point. My wife is much further into yoga as well and not so much into strength training. I think this is a real takeaway for me and I appreciate your feedback greatly. Looking back at my initial response regarding my warm up - there isn’t much stability work included where in the past I was doing planks, roll ups, bird dogs, dead bugs, etc. I believe I now have a course of action to address these issues I’m having along with a list of additional literature to add to my reading list. Thank you, all.
  15. DrFierce

    DrFierce Double-Digit Post Count

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  16. william bad butt

    william bad butt More than 300 posts

    Yes. Train STABILITY in some areas and train MOBILITY in others. Stable lumbar/midsection with mobile hips and shoulders is my goal.
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  17. Nacho

    Nacho Triple-Digit Post Count

    Original Strength: Pressing Reset -book has helped me quite a bit with very similar problems. Check it out!
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  18. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor

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  19. Trevor Williams

    Trevor Williams Still New to StrongFirst Forum

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  20. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

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