How Foam Rolling Reduces the Pain of Sitting at a Desk

Challenge: Try to maintain good posture sitting up tall during the rest of this article!

If you work at a desk and typically sit for extended periods of time during the day, you may be suffering from more than just a case of the afternoon yawns. Sitting can leave you feeling exhausted, sore, and unmotivated at the end of a long day at the office, but it can do more.

Good posture means maintaining correct alignment of your body in a seated position, while standing, and during motion. Most people believe they pay attention to posture during sitting, but after a few minutes at the desk we start to slump. Being able to maintain good posture is a combination of flexibility, strength, endurance, and awareness.

Over time, sitting in the same position can negatively impact your natural posture and the way your body is intended to move. Sitting is excellent for resting from activity, but the body’s posture is more natural when standing or lying down. Our bodies are designed to be in motion, not static all day sitting in a swivel chair. Even if your desk is completely ergonomic, your body is still going to be locked in certain positions during the day.

Posture is both static and dynamic, it is a combination of the numbers game. Meaning, the average person spends roughly seven hours a day sitting at work, then add in driving time, meals, Netflix, and other activities. This can add up to over twelve hours a day sitting. No amount of exercise you do during the week can make up for the sheer amount of time spent in poor position while sitting.

Ultimately, you are going to slowly but surely reset your natural posture to accommodate the posture you maintain at work. On its face this doesn’t sound too bad but resetting your body in this way will create havoc on your muscles and joints.

How Exactly does Sitting Destroy Posture

 When your muscles are stuck in the same position for hours on end, day after day, they begin to resize themselves to accommodate these habitual, long-term sitting sessions. Let’s take a picture of how working in a seated position for years has taught your body to semi-permanently alter itself:

Your back and posterior shoulder muscles are overextended from having your hands placed on a keyboard or writing on a desk.

Your chest muscles and biceps have learned to remain contracted from having your hands and arms out in front of you.

The low back and shoulders have rolled forward, which can cause low back pain and increase your chances of shoulder injuries.

Your hip flexors and quadriceps have tightened from staying locked at or near a ninety-degree angle.

 All of this causes uncomfortable knots in the muscle groups that have been contracted while you are sitting (pectoralis, anterior deltoid, abdominals, and hip flexors, to name a few).

What Does this All Mean?

 Are you familiar with that uncomfortable, hunched-over look that most of the older executives, bosses, and managers at your company have? Terrified of the back, shoulder and knee joint pains that your colleagues complain about?

Take a good look, because that is going to be you in a few years if you don’t do something about it. I’ve found that the majority of my clients (age ranging from mid-twenties to early thirties) who work at desks during the day are already beginning to have postural changes, aches, and pains. The majority of them experience shoulder issues, low back pain, tight hips, and poor form when bending and lifting, which can lead to knee and back injuries.

Altering natural muscle lengths affects posture and strength and can also decrease circulation to certain muscle groups and areas of the body. So how can we start correcting these problems and work on preventing further postural deviation and injury?

Benefits of Foam Rolling and Self Myofascial Release (SMR)

 Foam rolling and other methods of SMR are excellent ways to alleviate pain, help muscles return to their normal lengths, increase circulation, and decrease your chances of chronic pain in both work and activity.

Think of it this way: the muscles that are contracted all day while sitting at a desk have developed knots in them. Putting pressure on those knots with a foam roller or other SMR tools like a lacrosse ball will help massage the knot out so the muscle group can return to its intended length.

Working on your posture may mean adjusting your work space, investing in different furniture, and spending time to develop new habits. Think of it as a start-up cost to the future of your own health and performance. It will take more time and money in the short run but should save you from injury and years of pain in the long run.

Take It to Work

 One of the best features about foam rollers and other SMR devices like lacrosse balls is that they are inexpensive and portable. Bring them with you to work and leave them in the office. Take 10 to 15 minutes during your workday or lunch break to roll out your trouble areas.

If you’re in the Melbourne area and would like further information on the benefits of foam rolling please contact-us to speak to one of our personal trainers.

 Challenge Check-In: Did you maintain that posture during the entire article or have you started to lose it?

The Exercise All Personal Trainers Do

Push-ups I believe is the best upper body exercise one can do, but it's how you perform them that makes the difference.

If you want a big chest, healthy shoulders and a bullet proof core (that’s right, the push-up is essentially a dynamic plank), you should be reading on.

For the girls, I’m often told “I have weak arms’ or ‘my upper body needs strengthening’, if this sounds like you, read on.

The idea push-ups are merely a beginner's exercise should be a thing of the past. Volume, load and progression are some of the key factors responsible for muscle gain, and so you should maximise these when performing a push-up.

Unfortunately, most are not able to do a push-up properly or have never been shown how as it’s often regarded as a beginners exercise. Even if you think it is, the basics should be mastered first.

All members who train with us will attest that no-one is to perform a bench related press until they can perform 20 strict push-ups, just like no-one bicep curls until they can perform a strict chin-up.

In our Carlton gym, you master the basics first, then progress. 

Performing a push-up

Technique is everything when performing this exercise. Better form equals more stress on the chest, triceps and shoulders, rather than the joints.

  •     Start with arms shoulder-width apart and locked out

  •   To take the stress off your shoulder joints, keep your elbows tucked in. To help this, rotate your hands approximately 30-45 degrees outwards.

  • Lower your torso to the floor while keeping your back straight (use those abs and glutes, remember the plank?)

  • Pause at the bottom and hold for 1-2 seconds

  • Push back up

Pressed for more?

In order to build muscle and increase challenge, push-ups need to be progressive - with an ever-increasing rep range or heavy load.

Three ways of achieving this:

  1.  Adding weight plates to your back

  2. Wearing a weighted vest

  3. Raising your feet

 Crossover to the bench press

While it's fine to switch between push-ups and the bench, there's no reason why both shouldn't feature in your gym plan. When you're performing your push-ups, find the hand placement most comfortable. Have a friend measure the distance apart. When bench pressing, your hands should be this far apart.

If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Melbourne CBD to help get your push ups performed perfectly, contact us at info@hamilton-fitness.com.

Exercise Is Not Enough

Exercise Is Not Enough

It would be much easier if exercise alone could undo the damage caused by long periods of sitting down.

The cold hard truth is that exercise alone will not reverse the potentially harmful and irrefutable effects that extended sitting does to our bodies.

Would you consider someone who eats fast food and drinks alcohol regularly healthy, even if they regularly make it to the gym?

Ladies: How To Do A Pull Up, Finally!

There is no faking a pull-up. It is the movement that is the crown jewel of female fitness. In the world of booty shots and insta photos using lighting to improve aesthetics, there is no denying one can pretend to do a pull up (no, I’m not talking about a popular swinging version of what a certain modality call a pull-up. Pulling muscles should be performed using muscle strength, not momentum). I’m talking about grabbing a bar and pulling yourself up till your chin reaches over the bar. No machines, no swinging.

The pull-up is the classic strength and muscle building exercise for the back and arms. It is not only the king of back exercises, it also give the abs and hips a great working out due to isometrics. No one can perform a pull up with weak abs and hips!

Anyone can develop an ass by doing donkey kicks every day, or abs can be shown just through nutrition alone. Pull ups must be earned. No matter how strong you think you are, pull-ups can be humbling, just ask our members in our Carlton gym.

I just want to do a pull up!

Why you ask? Most men cannot do one, so how am I?

Females can be especially intimidated by the bar, but let me assure you, women can do pull-ups and I’m going to show you. It might be a little more work and patience is needed (men may naturally have the strength, but you guys have the patience), but it is within the potential of every able-bodied woman to perform a pull-up.

Don’t be surprised if it takes you several months or even longer to build the strength needed. It can be done on its own or preferably added to any training program (if you are at a gym and not following a structured program, you’re not training) and needs to be done with high frequency and volume, 3x/week minimum with 2-3 sets/3-10 reps of x1 variation and x1 assistance per session.

 

Band Assisted (variation): Loop a resistance band around the bar and perform full range of motion (elbows just short of full lockout and raise till the chin comes over the bar) pull-up. When you are able to perform 10 reps, decrease the resistance of the band.

https://youtu.be/MngpkHp45Ro

 

Eccentric Pull-Up (variation): This is essentially a pull-up with a slow lowering (eccentric) of the body. This is where you build the strength. Grab a bench or platform that allows you to jump onto the bar chin height and lower yourself as slowly and controlled as possible. This may seem difficult at first, but with time you will be able to lower yourself with control for 10 seconds or longer.

https://youtu.be/L1FVr4Mkpww

 

Inverted Row (Assistance): You can perform this with any horizontal bar or TRX system, the lower you are the harder the exercise becomes. Your goal is to reach 10 reps with the body in a straight line (heel to head) as horizontal as possible. This movement is great at conditioning the elbows and shoulders for the vertical hang. Make sure to keep the shoulder blades down and back - not shrugged. Start getting in to the habit of doing this. This is the most common error I see with people performing these movements and is essential to a successful pull-up.

https://youtu.be/2DpE5fb_rcY

 

Dead Hangs (assistance): What is the point of attempting a pull-up if you are unable to hold onto the bar long enough for a few reps. This will build grip strength and isometrically strength the shoulder and lats, while teaching how to pull the shoulders down and back. Contract the abs and squeeze the bum. Your body should be tight from your shoulders to your feet.

You should be gunning for a 1 minute active hang.

https://youtu.be/bNFBAFGc84s

If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Melbourne CBD to help get your pull ups performed perfectly, contact us at info@hamilton-fitness.com.

Mobility & Rehabilitation: Foam Rolling

So you’re new to the idea of self- myofascial release tools and using the best foam roller, myofascial release lacrosse ball, and many more self- release tools. This blog will show you how to use the foam roller to get into the routine of taking care of your body. Self- myofascial release techniques are easier than you think!

Good information in the mainstream on soft tissue modalities is quite low, the reasoning being is that most don’t understand it or don’t know how to apply it. For all the information out there that endorses it, there’s as much that opposes it. The scientific method is based on the test-retest method and in this case, that too is the best way to determine whether this modality works for you.

Based on experience with clients when applied properly and regularly in our Carlton gym, we believe it’s a winner!

What you see in most gyms and studios are people aimlessly rolling around in awkward positions, with a heavier focus on their IG feeds, rather than hunting for myofascial trigger points. It all comes down to application.

Does foam rolling help with back pain

Good movement and mobility comes from mastering T-spine bio-mechanics first. Foam rolling is ideal for improving this function. With most clients having previous muscle imbalances to one side and poor compensatory patterns. The foam roller relieves tension in the muscles while also lengthening them helping you not only to recover but gain flexibility.

The key is using combination patterns (flexion/rotation)/ (Extension/rotation) to get the most out of your T spine and juice up your rolling. Use various osculation techniques, range of motion and controlled rolling over the entire length of the muscle, or somewhere between those continuums. Avoid arching your back too much by keeping the trunk tight, hips on the ground and control your breathing.

Applying this for 3-5min a day, 5 days a week then retesting whether the trigger points/tightness is better, same or worse is the best way to determine whether this form of self-myofascial release is best suited to you.

Stay tuned as we will release how to videos demonstrating how to use the foam roller on our Instagram feeds and you-tube channels in the coming weeks.

If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Melbourne CBD to help get your health back on track, contact us at info@hamilton-fitness.com.

 

Warning: Always check with your doctor before performing any physical activity, especially if you fall in one of these activities; pregnant, over 25 with risk of cardiovascular problems. Please be aware that the instruction presented herein does not substitute medical counselling.

1.       Perform exercises in a slow and controlled manner.

2.       Stop and rest if you feel dizzy or short of breath and hydrate yourself with water.