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Joint Mobility In The Workplace

December 31, 2010, Judd

Human beings were not designed to sit for extended periods of time. Most people who work in a corporate setting suffer from poor posture and stiff and creaky joints. To correct poor posture and bring much needed lubrication to stiff joints, the corporate employee must practice a routine of joint mobility exercises.

A perfect example of joint immobility is trying to turn one’s head to see the blind spot before switching lanes. Many people suffer from stiff necks while trying to look into their blind spot. A habitual practice of one specific joint mobility exercise—rotation of the neck—will eventually lead to greater neck mobility.

Another common occurrence of repetitive work place body stress is a forward head, which can result in pain in the cervical spine area as well as lack of proper spinal fluid flow. One simple exercise to correct this is putting the pointer finger on the chin and pushing the chin back so that the ears rest over the head.

A simple routine of approximately 10 minutes per day can lead to a significant increase in joint mobility for the average corporate worker.

Joint Mobility Warm-Up Routine

Neck:

Flexion/Extension

-tuck chin in towards chest, lift chin towards ceiling; after about 20 repetitions, your neck should really start to loosen up. While chin is lifted at the end range of motion (neck extension), your eyes should try to look behind you (try to look at the top of your head); I perform one rep for my age, i.e. 34 reps; 20 is the minimum; if time allows, perform much more!

Rotation

-Turn head to left, looking over shoulder; keep the rest of your body square; activate peripheral vision. Perform 10-15 reps then repeat to right side. Lateral Flexion

-Bring left ear to left shoulder. Do not raise your shoulders. Left side first, then right, 10-15 reps. Chicken Exercise

-Start with ears over shoulder then stick chin out (do not stick it out all the way as this could lead to pain); bring ears back over shoulders, keeping chin parallel to floor.

Chicken with half circle rotation

-After sticking chin out, rotate your head in a semi circle going left. At the end of the movement, your ears should be in line with shoulders. Alternate to the right, then left; 5 repetitions to each side should suffice.

The Egyptian

-Using your pointer fingers as guides, laterally move your neck from side to side a handful of times to each side

Shoulders:

-Keeping your arms totally straight, lift your shoulder blades up, squeeze them together (shoulders rotate back), then drop your shoulder blades having your finger tips actively stretched towards the ground. Perform about 10 reps then switch the rotation to up, forward and down (instead of up, backwards and down)

-Perform the same thing unilaterally moving only one shoulder blade at a time. Remember to keep your arms straight. As above, after about 10 reps, switch the direction of the rotation.

-Arm Circles: good old fashioned small circles one way, then the other way, then bigger circles one way and then the other way; about 5 reps each rotation

-Scapular Retraction: Arms out to the side, palms facing out, squeeze your shoulder blades together.

-Ladder Climb: Pretend you are climbing a rope or ladder. One arm should be fully extended and the other should be flexed. Arms should be in constant motion. Palms face out.

Liver/Gallbladder Meridian (Side Stretches for the Joints of the rib cage)

-Side Bend

With one hand above your head, palm facing in, the other on your hip: Inhale, exhale and reach to one side. On the second and third inhales, back off just a wee bit on the stretch. Progressively reach farther on the second and third stretches. 3 reps to each side.

Spine

-Spinal Twists: With both arms extended in a straight line from the shoulder (palms facing down), inhale, then exhale and twist your torso and head to one side. Stop in the middle (starting position), inhale, exhale to other side. Come back to starting position. Repeat about 5 times each side.

Hips

-Hula Hoop: Make hip circles to the left for about 15 seconds, then to the right, then make figure 8s. Try to focus on isolating the hips and not using shoulders.

-Hip Hinge to Hamstring Stretch: With feet symmetrical about hips’ distance and the weight of your body supported mid-foot to heel, hinge your hips back (stick your butt straight out). Knees should be slightly bent. Back should be flat, make sure you are looking up. You should feel your hamstrings engaged and stretched. (To further maximize the benefit of this dynamic stretch, when in this position, push your heels into the ground and engage your inner thighs by imagining there’s a beach ball between your legs. The second part of this is to bring your hips forward and transfer the weight to the balls of your feet so you now feel the stretch in the front of your thighs and hip flexors.

Knees

-Squats: With feet pointed out slightly and lined with slightly wider than hips’ distance, stick the glutes out. Back should be flat and you should be looking forward or slightly up. With power, activate the abs and drive through your heels so that you come back to a standing position with abs, thighs, and glutes activated. Repeat 10-20 times. Remember to inhale on the way down, exhale back up.

Ankles

-From a standing position (or seated if on a plane, train or automobile), lift one foot off the ground and point your toes up then down several times. Then point your toes to the left then the right several times. Then point your toes diagonally both ways several times.

Good luck! Try to commit these exercises to memory. After a week or so, you should remember most of these. Perform at least 5 times per week. After a few weeks, you should really notice a difference in how your joints function.

Judd
Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.