Warm Up After Sitting At A Desk
Yet so many of us forgo a warm up all together, and just dive into the meat of the workout. How many of us just breeze through a barely thought out “warm up”, consisting of some basic arm stretches, leg swings, and maybe some light body weight movements? Most people hate the warm up, the view it as something annoying they have to do before doing the “fun” part of their workout.
Yet, the warm up may be one of the most important things you can possibly do as part of your workout.
As I mentioned above, the warm up actually helps prepare the body for the rigours of your training. Not only by physically making the body warmer, raising your heart rate, and getting the blood flowing – but by using the time to work on the weak links in your body. An effective warm up may help you address the postural imbalances you face, the mobility issues holding you back, and help you activate certain chains of muscles you’ll be focusing on using during your training.
Where does sitting at a desk come into all this warm up talk?
Now, you may heard it before – sitting is the new smoking. Ok, well it’s not quite that bad, but sitting all day isn’t the best thing for your body. Actually, being in one “shape” all day (be it standing, sitting, kneeling, etc.) is not great for the body. It just so happens that most of us spend our days sitting at desks, in cars, on the couch, or just about anywhere else. So the common “shape” we find our bodies in, is a seated “shape”.
When we sit all day, our bodies get used to being in a certain position. Essentially, our bodies become really good at sitting – after all, it’s what we’re telling our body it needs to do 90% of the time. Commonly you’ll find that many of us who sit all day have shoulders that roll forward, heads that reach forward, a hunched upper back, and tight hips among other things. All of those adaptations lend themselves to being good at sitting – and not much else.
Many of us finish our work day, then head to the gym to train after having spent the majority of the day in a seated position. We then skip our warm up, or do some haphazard version of a warm up, and then get right into lifting or running. Are you starting to see why so many people are sore, injured, or just not being able to train or move, the way they wish they could?
If you want to move well, feel amazing, and get the most out of your training – and you’re sitting at a desk all day – you’ll need to have an effective warm up. It will help you not only undue some of the bad habits our bodies ingrain from sitting all day, but also open up your posture, and help to reduce your risk of injury. So today, let’s look at some simple things you can do during your warm up to help undo all that sitting.
Step 1: Foam Roll / Self Massage
Foam rolling is a great way to get the blood flowing in the body, get your fascia and connective tissue sliding with ease, and help to relax tight muscles groups. After sitting at a desk all day, it might be a good idea to foam roll your thighs (quads) and lats (sides of the upper back). You may also want to use a lacrosse ball or smaller medicine ball to roll out your chest/pecs. Try rolling each area slowly, while breathing into those areas, for 30 sec to 1 min each.
Step 2: Thoracic Extensions Over A Foam Roller
When you sit all day, you’re upper back has a tendency to round forward and get stuck in a flexed position. It’s important that you can move in and out of both flexion and extension (rounding forward and arching backwards) if you want to keep your spine feeling great and improve your movement. Here’s a detailed video we made on the subject, you can find it in this previous blog post here.
Step 3: Stretch Your Tight Hips
Finally, take few to stretch your tight hips. When you sit at desk all day long, your hips are stuck in a flexed position. It’s important to open them up, in order to reduce the risk of injury, and to improve performance. Hips that can extend well (the opposite of flexion) will allow your glutes (the powerful butt muscles) to fire well – which is important if you want to maximize your training. Try this stretch above using a bench, chair, wall, or box as pictured. You can move further away from the box/bench as needed to reduce the stretch, you do not need to hold onto the box or bench. You can adjust the hight of the bench or box depending on your height and flexibility. Get tall, tuck your tail bone under (like a dog tucking its tail), and gently press the hips and pelvis forward while squeezing your glutes. Hold for a second or two, ease out of the stretch, and repeat for 5-10x per leg. We’re not focusing on long holds here, just gentle short holds while actively squeezing your glutes.
Try all this out the next time you go to the gym before your workout. Try starting with a light walk on the treadmill for 5 mins to get the blood flowing, then dive into performing these 3 movements. Your training will improve and you’ll be slowly undoing the habits of being in a seated position all day.
Have questions? Not sure where to start? Need help with your warm up or training? Contact your nearest Wynn Fitness and work with one of our Wynn Fitness Trainers today. They’ll be more than happy to guide you.