If you spend an appreciable amount of time on a smartphone, at a computer, or sitting at a desk then chances are you have a few imbalances, and tight spots that could be screwing up your posture and putting you in pain.
It’s gotten so bad that some people have even turned to standing desks to cure their postural problems. It’s not a bad idea, but it might not fly in a lot of workplaces, and some people (myself included) think they kind of make you look like a weirdo.
The good news is there are ways you can restore mobility and stability to the worst trouble spots – specifically the shoulders and the hips.
When frequent cell phone use meets the type of excessive pressing (bench, incline, and overhead) that many lifters do it can be a recipe for serious shoulder trouble. Constant shortening of the pecs during pressing movements, smartphone use, and computer based work causes the shoulders to become internally rotated resulted in a hunched over appearance. Aesthetics aside, over time this can cause a great deal of strain on the upper back, neck, and shoulders.
If you are afflicted by what we’ll call “Pokemon Posture” (I know there’s a “Go” after Pokemon now, but for the sake of alliteration let’s pretend there isn’t) then this program from the Diesel Crew could be the cure for what ails you.
It’s a week-long training program meant to “maintain and restore shoulder health, function, and stability.”
My suggestion: go through the entire week and then take elements of the program and add them to your regular workouts to maintain healthy shoulders, and improve posture.
Heading a bit farther south, many people suffer from chronic back pain and wind up spending countless amounts of time and cash on chiropractors, physical therapy, and Tiger Balm patches as a result. But what if they didn’t have to? What if there were a few stretches and exercises – which if done regularly – could keep lower back pain at bay?
Well, there are!
If you tend to spend a lot of time sitting down chances are your hip muscles have become tight and shortened, creating a condition called anterior pelvic tilt. It’s also possible that lengthy sitting sessions have caused your glutes (the butt muscles) to fall asleep. It’s a problem that even the most active among us can run into if their job keeps them sitting in a desk chair for hours at a time.
Not to worry, there’s a fix.
The goal is going to be to activate the glutes, and open up the hips.
Personally my favorite way to open up the hips is with a hip flexor stretch.
Or for a more advanced, dynamic version try this variation from T-Muscle.
Complete the trifecta by waking up your glutes. My favorite exercise for this is the glute bridge.
Writing for T-Muscle, Dean Somerset explains, “The key to this exercise is to get the hips to extend as far as possible without getting kick-up from the hamstrings or low back. If needed, put your hands on your glutes to make sure you’re getting them to contract properly. Drive through the heels and keep the feet flat on the floor, making sure you hinge up through the hips instead of rolling up through the spine.”
I like the glute bridge because I can mix it into my warmup for squats and deadlifts, and I can do it right there in the rack, but Somerset outlines a number of moves that can set off your gluteal alarm clock and undo the damage created by life in a cubicle.
Once a year it’s a great idea to take a couple weeks to dedicate yourself to improving mobility and hip/shoulder joint health (Don’t worry bros, your ‘gainz’ will still be there when you get back). Then once your joints feel better and posture has improved return to your regular programing and sprinkle these “fixers” into your warmup, cool down, or dedicate a day out of the week to moving and feeling better. As an added bonus waking up long dormant muscles and improving stability and mobility at the hips and shoulders will cause a very noticeable increase in your ability to bench, squat, deadlift, and press.
Don’t just take it from me, give it a shot!