Yoga for office workers

I have been researching joint pain to try and work out what brought on my recent knee injury. I now have a good idea of the likely cause and wanted to share the steps I am taking to fix the issue as they could be useful for anyone that spends a lot of time sitting at a desk.

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Joint pain is often a result of issues in the joint above or below actual location of the pain. If a joint isn’t performing properly it puts additional strain on the ones around it eventually leading pain and/or injury. Starting at the bottom, there is a pattern of stability/mobility in joint function as you work your way up the body:

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?????????? Foot – stability

?????????? Ankle – mobility

?????????? Knee – stability

?????????? Hip – mobility

?????????? Lumbar spine – stability

?????????? Thoracic spine – mobility

?????????? Scapulae – stability

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If the hip or ankle becomes tight they can force the knee to be more mobile which over time causes a problem. I work in an office and sit at a desk for most of my day and hip tightness can be an issue, it was especially bad on the day I injured my knee – coincidence?

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I am??currently using the following five yoga poses to try and undo the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day. They help open up the areas that tighten up when sitting, are relatively simple to learn and can be scaled if you struggle to get into the full pose. Camel pose is probably the most difficult, but cobra pose would make an excellent substitute.

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I hold each for 30-60 seconds for one or two rounds which takes no more than 15mins. If you are pushed for time I would focus on camel – your body???s position in this pose is pretty much the physical opposite to when sitting. I’m a big fan of getting into camel pose a few times during a work day to loosen myself up, it also helps relieve a bit work stress!

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I would normally prefer to fix the source of a problem rather than symptoms but the nature of my job makes it difficult in this case (career change maybe?). As well as these poses I would also highly recommend taking regular breaks from sitting at you desk, although not so many that you get fired 😉

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*The same can be true of the hip and lumbar spine. Stiffness in the hip can force the??lumbar spine to be more mobile??causing lower back pain.

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Rings and grip work

Joint mobility
Handstand play x 3 (wall, freestanding, HeSPU, bent arm)
Ring routine* – 1,1,1
Ring support/L-sit – 12,12,20sec

17.5kg two handed pinch – 10,6,5,20sec
10kg DB finger curls – 3 x 10R/10L
9kg DB wrist curls – 3 x 10R/10L
6kg DB reverse wrist curls – 3 x 9R/9L

*back lever, inverted row to l-pull up (3), front lever)

Good fun session tonight. I’m enjoying taking a more playful approach to the rings, still getting the all important levers in though.

I chalked my hands before the last pinch set. It made such a difference, I could have lifted way more.

Life aquatic and leverage lifting

Swimming is a movement skill I don’t practice very often. I went for a dip on Sunday and realised I don’t do it enough! It felt unnatural and hard, not how it should at all, and not how it used to – it’s another thing to put on the list of activities. My back felt a bit smoked today so I skipped the ring workout and hit some leverage lifting. This kind of lifting really stresses the stabiliser muscles and grip and a relatively light weight can be very challenging. I find I recover from it pretty quick though and it has great carry over to ‘real world’ strength.

Warm up – joint mobility

Then this circuit x 4:
8kg powerclub flag press – 8,6,5,5 R/L
20kg/20kg KB renegade rows – 5,6,6,6 R/L
6kg powerclub head cast – 6,6,6,6 R/L

Then a superset:
7kg plate curl – 5,5,5
Poweclub tricep push up – 3,3,3

Finisher – 2kg wrist side lever – 10/10

Cool toys then my knee goes boom

I got some very cool toys for my birthday last weekend: a 20kg bell and a second 8kg club, both very lovely. Unfortunately I did something hideous to my knee during a birthday yoga flow. Not being able to stand up isn’t the best way to end a big day. It is feeling much better now but I’ll have to take a bit of a step back on many of my lower body exercises, which is a pain. It didn’t stop me having a good go at my upper body tonight though.

Joint mobility
Rings – support hold – 3 x 20sec
Ring play* – x 3 rounds
8kg powerclub – flag press – 3 x 5R/5L

Double pinch lift – 17.5kg 5,6,5,5 sec
DB finger curls – 10kg 3 x 8R/8L
DB wrist curls – 8kg 10R/10L, 9kg 2 x 10R/10L
DB reverse wrist curls – 6kg 10R/10L,8R/8L,6R/6L
16kg KB crush hold – 3 x 20sec

Exercise bike – 10 mins easy for knee rehab

*included: front lever, back lever, front lever rows, inverted rows, L-pull ups

13/7/10 – fun with gymnastics

Joint mobility
16kg KB windmill – 5R/5L
Wall handstand – 3 x 30sec
16kg KB snatch – 2 x 10R/10L
Rings – 360 pull with static holds – 1,1
L-sit press to shoulder stand – 2,2
Assisted glute ham raise – 5,5,5

Prasara ocean flow – 1 each way

I’m having a lighter week this week so I reduced my normal volume on the gymnastics and avoided the kettlebell silliness. Glute ham raises aren’t exactly light work though!

9/7/10 – swinging steel is brilliant

Joint mobility

16kg KB windmill – 5R/5L
16kg KB snatch – 10,15,20,15,10,5 R/L = 75/75
8kg powerclub shield cast – 2 x 1minR/1minL
8kg powerclub shoulder cast – 1minR/1minL

Today was the most volume I have done with snatches in one workout. I wouldn't have been able to do this a month ago but have put real effort into my technique. It's come one really well, especially on my left (weaker, less coordinated, generally crapper) side. Previously I had been lazy with my punch through at the top of the snatch on that side so the kettlebell would roll round the side of my arm bashing up wrist or flip over the top to bruise my forearm – not fun. Now I'm punching through more??aggressively??it feels much smoother with no bumps on the way up. I slightly different drop??technique??means I'm not getting blisters on the way down. I basically just bend my arm, don't flip it over the top, don't roll it round the arm, just bend the elbow and let gravity do the rest.??Marvellous.

7/7/10 – push, pull & grip – aces

Joint mobility
16kg KB windmill – 5R/5L
Headstand – 58,47,60 sec
Frog stand – 23,12,13 sec
16kg KB snatch – 2 x 10R/10L
Pull up ladders – 2 x 1,2,3,4,5 1 x 1,2,3 = 36
24kg OA jerk – 3 x 10R/10L
Pinch push ups – 3 x 5
Soft fat bar reverse DB 6kg – 3 x 5

Prasara yoga – ocean flow x 2 each way

Another great workout, the numbers keep going up and up. I really enjoyed the hand/head balancing at the start. Balancing on your hands is a great strength developer for upper body and I find it kinder on my shoulders than pressing. There is also the bonus that handstands and more advanced balances are very cool. The wacky curls at the end are not a sign that I’m getting into body building. There an old Bruce Lee favourite. You wrap the bar in a towel to make it super fat and then curl with it, it’s a killer grip exercise.