Desk Jockey (per Dr. Lin’s Dictionary), Noun: a person who sits in their cubicle or chair in front of a computer all day, riding the chair, much like a horse jockey.
There are so many associated risks and issues that arise from spending hours at a time, every day, at a desk. Poor postures, stiff joints, poor breathing, poor vascular circulation, poor organ movement, infertility, and yes, possible chances for colon cancers…the laundry list goes on.
Sitting at a desk for more than 30 minutes at a time could potentially be more hazardous to your health in my mind than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Ok, maybe not as bad, but I hope you see the point.
Our bodies are designed to move. A patient told me this saying and it has since stuck with me “Running water NEVER freezes.” So how do you get UNSTUCK? I will detail below ways to combat desk jockey syndrome.
Where shall I start? The lower back is a vital part of our biomechanics. It gives us the freedom to stand up tall or crunch down and round into a ball. It needs both flexibility and stability.
Our lower back’s health depends on a couple of things; for starters, movement and muscle strength. The abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor, and the diaphragm comprise (in general) your core muscles. Putting weight into your pelvic floor by sitting on it for prolonged periods will stretch it out and cause it to lose its strength. And of course, shallow breathing underutilizes your diaphragm. So what do you have? A beer belly!
Unduly forces from gravity will start breaking down our normal discs that provide that natural springy feeling you once might have felt when you were healthier. Over some time, things start to get rigid back there. Like I said above, “running water never freezes.”
What I recommend is standing up every 30 minutes for a minute or trying the exercises below. Better yet, if you have the ability to walk to the water cooler and back that would be perfect!
Some exercises you can try to keep it healthy if you aren’t able to stand up include:
1) Pelvic Clocks: Imagine you are sitting on the center of a clock, where you are looking at the 12 o’clock time. Shift your pelvis (tailbone pointing) forward. Then try to do it hitting the other times. Try it clockwise and counterclockwise. If you can’t hit a number you might have a restriction. This is a good indication you may need to seek a proper evaluation.
2) Drawing in your belly button and holding it 5-10 seconds at a time will help contract those core muscles.
3) Deep Breathing: By breathing into your lower lungs, your abdominal muscles will be activated and will benefit.
4) Butt Squeezes along with pushing your feet into the floor: Try that 5-10 times and hold it for 5 seconds.
If you’re still hurting, as always, I suggest you find your nearest Doctor of Physical Therapy. This way, you can get a proper evaluation and course of action as well as someone to work on you with manual physical therapy.
Heal Smarter, Not Harder,
Dr. Justin C. Lin