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FIX 5 INJURIES CAUSED BY YOUR DESK JOB
USE THE GYM TO PREVENT BODY DAMAGE CAUSED AT WORK
Around 4 in 5 people in the UK have a desk job; and while we are frequently reminded of the raised risk of cardiac and metabolic illnesses that prolonged sitting leads to, there is also a risk of physical injury. This is due to the hours we spend being sedentary at our day jobs, failing to use our muscles and sitting with our backs and shoulders in the same hunched position. So, if you want to train at your optimum level, Ben Barker, Osteopath and Physiotherapist at Total Health Clinics, explains the ways that you can prevent injuries in the gym that can be caused by the 9-5.
Modern day living leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to literal pains in our neck. Hunched over desks, or consistently looking down at phones and tablets leads to our necks being arched forward, causing pain. However, when you arrive at the gym and take your poor posture to the bench press – you can cause yourself some real injuries. If your back isn’t completely flush with the bench, the lack of flexibility and extension in the upper back will put an increased amount of stress on the neck.
The Fix: When hitting the bench press, it’s critical that you ensure that your neck (and lower back) are properly supported. After a long day at the office, your neck will be put under additional stress if you do exercises that require your arms to be raised above your head. Also, improving your posture by working on strengthening your upper and mid back you will prevent injury both at the desk job and at the gym; the best exercise for this is Lat Pulldowns.
That desk job has got a lot to answer for; the stance we take at our desks means that we sit with our upper backs rounded and not extended properly. It’s unrealistic to sit with a rounded back all day then head straight to the gym and do exercises which requires the back be extended. This means that the lower back is put under considerable stress as due to accommodate straightening and arching that the upper back now can’t support.
The Fix: To compensate for all the time that we spend hunched over, we need to strengthen our upper backs. Try to exercise standing up as much as you can; it means that you engage the bigger muscles in the body, it also allows you to improve your stability as your abdomen, back and the muscles in your hips, knees and ankles will all be called upon.
Sitting down for extended periods means that the muscles in our hips aren’t used, so when we decide to partake in some high impact activities, the result is commonly an injury to the knee because the hips muscles have limited strength. If we are wearing footwear that isn’t supporting our feet (and therefore body) in the correct way, we are essentially unstable, and if the hip muscles don’t have the strength to counteract, it’s the knees that take the stress.
The Fix: Movements where the hips and ankles bend together will stabilise and strengthen the knees. Walking, static lunges and squats are great exercises – add weight once you have perfected your form. Be sure to include movements that are both forward and backwards, but also side to side. Many people make the mistake of thinking exercises such as leg extensions and curls help to prevent this issue, but these movements engage the larger leg muscles, not the ones in the feet or hips.
How would we function at our desk without a mouse or keyboard? The initial answer is simply that we wouldn’t; the other answer is, ‘with less pain’. The ways that our arms move internally when we type or use the mouse means that our shoulders are put under pressure and become tense. Many of the movements that we make at the gym also require our arms to move the same way; chest presses, push ups and shoulder presses all require our arms to rotate inwards – this can result in an injury of the rotator cuff.
The Fix: We must balance our shoulders and counteract the internal rotation – by externally rotating them. You can achieve this by using rowing cables; by holding the cables in front of you and pulling your arms backwards, you move your palms away then finally behind you. Using a rowing machine can also help to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders.
Injuries to the ankles and feet can also be blamed on the sedentary 9-5. We spend our days sat down in front of our screens with our shoulders hunched; but when we stand up with our shoulders in a rounded position, the centre of gravity is misplaced and it’s the front of the foot that the weight falls onto. This also happens when we wear running shoes because they naturally have a heel higher than the toe, tipping us forward and the result is the ankles bear the brunt of the impact.
The Fix: Seek out shoes with a low heel so that the impact is spread across the whole foot; opting for a tennis or cross trainer shoe can help to prevent common injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and compression syndromes. There are several specialist shops all over the country that will look at your training regime, your posture and your gait and can recommend the appropriate shoes.