Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My job is a pain in the __________ !

Whether your job entails you sitting at a computer all day, playing chauffeur to your kids activities/running a household, or hauling products on sales pitch meetings; your job could be and probably is causing your body a lot of pain.  Many of the activities involved in our jobs are done under stress and create undesirable movement patterns. Since movement patterns develop over time and repetition the 7-12 hours (or more) on your job is doing you more harm than you may think.  Your good intentions of working out at the gym, pilates, yoga, or your personal trainer 1-2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week is a good start. However, in the grand scheme of things these good movement patterns are not enough to negate the undesirable patterns being reinforced in a greater time frame.

So if you are not fortunate enough to work in a field like mine, what are you to do?

First of all be aware. Notice how you are sitting at your desk, in your car, carrying your bags. Notice what happens to your body when you start to think about how you are sitting, where your shoulders and head are in space, the side of your body that is carrying your heavy bag.  Just the awareness will allow you to notice your posture, habits and notice where you are carrying your tension.  Become aware throughout your day. Not only when you are at work, but preparing dinner, bathing your children, washing the dishes, even reading or watching television.  I have caught myself several times sitting on the couch reading with my head and neck completely tensed up and forward. Awareness is the first step in breaking any pattern.

Second, try to send the positive movement patterns from yoga, pilates, your personal trainer into your workday.  Sit up tall lifting out of your hips. Create space between your vertebrae. Allow your shoulders to hang and rest gently on the spine.  Root down through your feet and lengthen out through the crown of your head.  Creating this internal conversation with your body throughout the day can create a lot of positive changes.  This is also a good time to reevaluate your work environment. Is your chair at the proper height for your computer? Is the position of the back of the chair causing you to slouch or enabling you sit up tall? I am a huge proponent of sitting on a large resistance ball when at my computer, forcing me to sit up tall.  There are many stores that sell ball and ball-like products for exactly this purpose.  Relax the back has stores all over the country, as well as being able to order online.  Make sure the angle of your computer and keyboard is ergonomic and not causing you to strain to see the screen or drop the wrists to type.  These small patterns may seem trivial, but you are doing this pattern for the majority of your day and these small movement patterns are becoming more and more ingrained into your body with every key stroke and email.

Lastly, take a desk break.  I like the ratio of 15 minutes of break for every 45 minutes of work.  Take the time to stand up from your seat or get out of your car. Take a short little walk down to the water fountain or a little stair work in your office. Stretch. Bend. Move. Try to counteract the movement patterns that you are in the most at your job.  Close the door and breath or meditate even for 5 minutes. This will allow you to continue to be aware, send positive messages to your body, and reverse the undesirable patterns.  It will break up the pattern and restart you each hour.

Link to the first segment of my Podcast Series: Desk Break. This is a 5-10 minute video of exercises specifically chosen to break the negative movements and can be done in your office, using only your desk, and chair. Note: You may want to close your door or better yet, invite your co-workers to join in with you.

Be sure to subscibe to piLALAtes You Tube channel for more Desk Break segments to come.

1 comment:

  1. This is great Luarel I'm so glad I found you on twitter!I went through the Stott Pilates and Power pilates Matt courses. Everyone should be doing pilates! I feel my best when I"m consistent. Now if I could just replace my dining room table with a reformer! :-).