This guest post is by Dr. Kathryn Woodall of Indestructible Desk Jockey.
Do you spend a lot of time tickling the keyboard to crank out a blog? Then you’ll want to listen to this.
When you were a child, did your mother ever say, “Keep making that face and it’s gonna stay that way?” If you’re anything like me, you probably just brushed her off and stuck out your tongue.
Well it turns out your mom was right—sort of.
Your body has a remarkable ability to adapt to environmental stressors. We know this from weight training. Repeat a movement often enough with a challenging weight and the body grows new muscle. It adapts in such a way that the movement becomes easier to execute.
Trainers refer to this as SAID: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. But the thing most people miss, the flip-side of the SAID principle, is that same thing happens with any task we repeat over and over. Whether you want it to or not.
If you sit at a desk all day, it becomes easier and easier to stay that way. Your muscles and connective tissues adapt and the fascia becomes thick and leathery, until your body actually becomes chair-shaped. The same thing happens to your wrists when you spend a lot of time typing blog posts, texting on a mobile device, or playing video games. They adapt to that position.
The good news is, you can prevent these unwanted changes from becoming permanent by taking a couple minutes a day to perform these simple exercises.
Banish the desk jockey hunch
Very few people in our modern world are “hunch immune.” Commutes, conference tables, computer stations and La-Z-Boy chairs—they’re all conspiring to reshape us in their own image!
And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The more you hunch, the more your pecs and biceps tighten up, and the more you get pulled into that hunch… And yeah, this applies even if you usually blog in one of those overstuffed coffee shop chairs.
Thankfully, you can have a straight back again. It’s simply a matter of releasing tight tissues periodically throughout your day while simultaneously awaking and activating their “antagonists”—the muscles of the rear shoulder and upper back.
You’ll do this by lifting your rib cage up and forward, and then extending your mid spine to the back. Check out this video of the exercise so you can see how it’s done.
Keeping your thoracic region open and well balanced is a key to improving your overall wellbeing. You’ll breathe better by freeing up your lungs. You’ll look better—tall and proud—and people will interact with you differently. Your body language has a profound affect on your mood, so you’ll probably also notice an increase in positive feelings.
Best of all, you might find that chronic lower back and/or neck pain begins to fade away. Lack of mobility in the thoracic region can actually manifest as pain above or below those regions.
Release your shoulders
The Double Handcuff is a simple but effective release for your shoulders, and it’ll go a long way towards righting that forward hunched posture so typical of folks who spend their time writing for fun or profit.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Clasp your hands together behind your back.
- Stand tall, with a neutral spine and maintain that alignment throughout.
- Lift your shoulders to your ears, roll them back, and then drive your arms down towards the floor.
- Hold this post for 30-40 seconds.
- Check out this video demonstration of the movement.
You can practice the Double Handcuff throughout your day, and bang out a few each night to put the perfect polish on your evening.
Mobilize your wrists
This one’s easy. It’s pleasant. And it only takes a few minutes.
It’s also the most important exercise on this list if you spend more time googling and blogging than you do standing upright.
Just make a loose fist and circle your wrists through their full range of motion. First in one direction, then the other. Smooth out those “clunks” and work through the clicks and pops—as long as it doesn’t hurt. If you experience pain rather than discomfort, get yourself checked out by a competent health care practitioner.
You can see a video demonstration of the movement here, along with several other wrist releases. You’ll benefit from these whether you’re an accomplished typist or a thumb shuffling Blackberry belle. Just six to eight slow, smooth reps in each direction is enough to make progress. Even better if you can do them a few times during your day.
Some of these exercises will give the overworked blogger immediate relief. Others might require a bit of practice to make permanent changes to your “WordPress posture”. They really do make a difference. Give them a try.
Dr. Kathryn Woodall, DC is the author of Indestructible Desk Jockey. Dr. Woodall spent 15 years in private practice helping patients rediscover and maintain vibrant and healthy lives, and she now enjoys bringing that experience to a broader audience as an author and consultant. She published her first novel last year, and, when she isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring local trails with her dog or spending time with friends and family.