Feeling Stiff? This Will Make You Better

“But you work in a gym,” they said.

This conversation happened 5 years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was chatting with a prospective client about her exercise regime or lack thereof.  Our attempt at conversation quickly shifted to her opinion that it’s really easy to exercise if you’re working in a gym.

Five years ago, that opinion may have been right.  The majority of my work time was training people in person.  Today, I split my time at MFF between training and managing our program design team, directing our Trainer-In-Residence program, writing the training team schedule, and working on a handful of as-of-yet unnamed projects.  When I’m not coaching, I end up in a position that’s familiar to a lot of people who are not on their feet all day.

Fun fact: This “computer guy” photo is literally 10 years old.  I first saw it in a T-Nation series from Tony Gentilcore and Jim Smith. Part 1 and Part 2 are still relevant.

10 years after that article came out, and four years after joining the team at MFF, I have some computer guy in my life.  Some days I have 5-7 hours of sitting down and working on projects, and that sitting can be exhausting.

I’ve been using several solutions to keep myself moving enough to stay loose and comfortable while remaining productive during these creative times.

Water: Smaller glasses, more frequently.

I’m as close to a camel as you can get.  I will rarely leave the house without a water bottle.  My go-to bottle on the run is the biggest Klean Kanteen they make. When I’m home it’s a different story.

We have mason jars at home, and they’re far smaller.  12 ounces of water doesn’t last me very long, which means I’m standing up every 20-30 minutes for a fresh glass.  If you’re as thirsty as I am, those extra laps to the tap can be meaningful during long periods of sitting.

Stretching: On the hour, every hour.

When I’m sitting a lot, I don’t realize how inactive I am until I stand up.  When my brain gets to relax and my legs start to move, it’s immediately apparent what that lack of movement feels like.  So, every hour, on the hour, I get off the couch or out of the chair and stretch.

Currently, my go-to is this split plank, spiderman lunge, hamstring stretch combo that Steph Wilberding programmed for us at MFF.  Five of these on each side takes me maybe 3 minutes total, and it loosens up a whole lot in a hurry.

Check it out here:

Schedule Strategy: Breaks for your body, and your brain

Rather than working for a big chunk of time without any movement, I’ll plan for a movement interruption.  This may mean that I work for 2-3 hours then hop on the train to MFF, and stand while doing so.  Other days it means that I ride my bike to work instead of taking the subway.

These mid-day movement breaks add a bit of time to my work day, but I end up feeling far better than I would if I worked straight through without moving at all.  On those days, I feel like I went through a challenging workout without having moved at all.  Sitting down doesn’t feel great, right Robert Downey, Jr.?

There you have it, friends, my three favorite strategies to prevent yourself from turning into the Tin Man while getting things done.

Getting up for 1-2 minutes for a glass of water can keep you hydrated. Taking 3-5 minutes for a mobility drill like one we’re using at MFF can remind your joints to move through their full ranges of motion. Allowing ~30 minutes for your mind, and muscles to decompress can count as your daily workout or general physical activity.

If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, these three solutions can be perfect for helping you stay loose and limber throughout the day.  If your friends or loved ones are sitting as much as you are, send this their way. I’m sure they’ll thank you!


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