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10 Exercises to Fix Your Desk Jockey Posture

10 Exercises to Fix Your Desk Jockey Posture

Sitting sucks.

We now know for a fact that chronic, prolonged, sitting is horrible for our health. Not only does it create a number of general health problems, it reeks absolute havoc on our posture. Even if you start out sitting in a good posture, sit long enough and the postural muscles will become fatigued.

Once that happens you’re going to start to “slide” into a really awful posture that has come to be known as Desk Jockey Posture. In fact there’s a good chance that you’re in the Desk Jockey Posture right now. Slumped over, shoulders rounded and pulled forward, hands internally rotated, hips rolled forward, low back in a stretched position.

Why is Desk Jockey Posture even a problem?

Because posture is incredibly important, both good and bad. As we sit in “good” posture for a long period of time the postural muscles become tired and we slide into Desk Jockey Posture so we can use the hard structures (the bones) for stability instead of the muscles. Do this enough and the body will change the length tension relationships of the muscles and consequently, the position of the bones in some of the joints will change. When this happens often enough for long enough, you adapt and lock in this new posture. The Desk Jockey Posture will become your new “normal” posture.

Desk Jockey Posture contributes to a number of issues, some of them include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Upper, Mid and Lower back pain
  • Anterior (front side) hip pain
  • Knee pain

What it comes down to is that this is an awful position to be in, especially when you’re spending hours at a time everyday in that position. But there are some very easy exercises that you can do almost anywhere that can help you “reset” into a more neutral posture.

1. Overhead Warrior Lunge

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3-Overhead-Reverse-Lunge

    Get into a lunge stance with the hips in neutral (belt should be flat). Squeeze the glute on the same side as the leg that’s behind you and press the hip forward. Make sure you keep the ribcage down in neutral and reach overhead trying to pull the ribs apart. Each reach should unlock/ expand the ribcage a bit more. Be sure not to extend from the lower back.

    2. Hip Flexor Stretch

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmec1bQBQOE

    Get into a lunge stance with the hips in neutral and ribcage down. Put pressure in the front heel, squeeze the glute on the stretched (knee on the ground) leg, and press only the hip forward. You can make this more intense by putting the back foot up on a bench, chair, or against a wall.

    3. Chest Stretch

    Chest Stretch Edit

      Stand in a doorway with the shoulders down in the joints. Hold your arms out (they can be bent at the elbow) and lean in keeping the ribcage down. Think about “opening” the chest.

      4. Thoracic Extensions

      These can be done over a foam roller or a hard back chair that comes one half to two-thirds up the back. Sit tall, natural arch in the lower back and chest up. Place the hands behind the head, elbows forward, and reach back over the chair or roller. Don’t just extend the neck/ look up. Keep the chin in a neutral position and extend the ribcage over the chair back or roller. Focus on “opening” the ribs and pulling them apart. The lower back should never move.

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      5. Thoracic Rotations

      Start in a quadruped position:

      • On all fours
      • Hands under shoulders, elbows locked.
      • Knees under the hips
      • Shoulders in the shoulder joint, chest up slightly

      Place one hand behind the head, look at the elbow and rotate through the ribcage. Start elbow to elbow and rotate up as far as you can without moving from the lower back or shifting the ribcage.

      Quick Tip: If the belly button moves/ rotates, you’re moving from the lower back.

      6. Scapula Pinches

      scap pinch_edited

        Sit or preferably stand tall, with the shoulders down. Pinch the shoulder blades together in the back. Hold this fully pinched position for a count of one to five and repeat.

        7. Trap Stretch

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        Trap Stretch_edit2

          Sit tall, with the hips neutral and feet flat in front. Reach a hand up over the head and gently pull the head towards the shoulder. Don’t yank on your head, that could cause injury. The hand isn’t pulling on the head; it’s just assisting gravity a bit. Do this 1–3 times for 30–60 seconds at a time.

          8. Levator Scapula Stretch

          stephlevator

            Set up the same as the Trap Stretch, but instead of facing forward, look at an armpit and gently pull the head in that direction. Again, 1–3 times for 30–60 seconds at a time.

            9. Glute Bridge

            glute bridge

              Lay on your back; bring the feet up so that when the hips are fully extended (up) the knees will be a at ninety degrees. Keep the ribcage down, drive through the heels, sqeeze the glutes HARD and press the hips into full extension. Hold the top, really focusing on a hard squeeze, and return to the starting position.

              A lot of hip and low back pain is the result of weak, underactive glutes, and sitting all day in Desk Jockey Posture essentially shuts your glutes down completely. Simply performing a few glute bridges can not only keep them from shutting down completely, but these may help reset the sacrum and alleviate some hip and lower back pain. Be sure to focus on using the glutes and shutting down the hamstrings.

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              If the two legs is too easy opt for the single leg version.

              single leg glute bridge

                10. Scap Pushups

                Get into a pushup plank position. Maintain this tight line and allow the scapula to move to the midline of the body as the torso falls. At the lowest point press the ground away and the shoulder blades to the outside of the shoulders.Make sure you keep your elbows straight, bending them will create false movement at the elbows and not the shoulders.

                Don’t think that these can be a cure-all. Simply doing these once or twice a day won’t offset 8 hours of sitting in Desk Jockey Posture. You need to me conscious of your posture through the day, continue to stay active, mobile and strong so you can maintain good posture for as long as possible and return to a neutral position easily. These exercises will, however, help to stem the tide of tissue creep and make you feel a bit better, maintain some mobility,open up some tight areas and activate muscles that shut down when we spend to much time being a Desk Jockey.

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                Published on November 14, 2018

                Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                Symptoms of Fatigue

                Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                • mental blocks
                • lack of motivation
                • headache
                • dizziness
                • muscle weakness
                • slowed reflexes and responses
                • impaired decision-making and judgement
                • moodiness, such as irritability
                • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                • reduced immune system function
                • blurry vision
                • short-term memory problems
                • poor concentration
                • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                Causes of Fatigue

                The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                Medical Causes of Fatigue

                If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                Anemia

                Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                Diabetes

                Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                Sleep Apnea

                Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                Thyroid disease

                An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                • Lack of sleep
                • Too much sleep 
                • Alcohol and drugs 
                • Sleep disturbances 
                • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                • Poor diet 

                Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                1. Tell The Truth

                Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                • How you feel
                • What time of day it is
                • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                • How your mind and body reacts

                This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                2. Reduce Your Commitments

                When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                4. Express More Gratitude

                Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                5. Focus On Yourself

                Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                7. Take a Power Nap

                When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                8. Take More Exercise

                The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                9. Get More Quality Sleep

                To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                10. Improve Your Diet

                Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                12. Get Hydrated

                Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                The Bottom Line

                These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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