Friday, January 25, 2013


My day.

A post on sitting?  Yup.  Not all injuries are from working out.

I'm relatively fine now, but the past few months have been tough for me, since I've been battling a series of injuries.  No, not from CrossFit, lifting, or other physical activities, but instead from too much SITTING with poor posture.  Yup, sitting.

Warning: this is a longggg post.

Background Information.

Somehow I developed the bad habit of sitting in front of my computer for long hours and only getting up when I really, really, really had to pee.  It got so bad, that I recall a few days at work when I only got up a total of four times, including coming to and leaving work.  The good thing was, for the most part I was zoned out and productive; I got stuff done.  The bad thing was I was hunched over most of the time with a rounded back and sitting in all kinds of awkward positions.  You know, kind of like all the things you're not supposed to do in a deadlift, but for sitting instead.

So my terrible posture led to all kinds of issues: lower back pains, neck cramps, overworked thumbs and wrists, rotator cuff issues, and inflamed hips.  And it only got worse each time.  I used to dismiss those injuries as minor discomforts.  These issues built up in severity as I continued to ignore them.  Now when I get injured, it impacts more activities I do.  When my rotator cuff issues surfaced, I couldn't swing on the rings anymore.  When my hips were inflamed, I couldn't squat... but the real eye opener for me was, I could not concentrate at work... and pretty much anything, since it hurt so much to sit.

 2. Pretty much had issues with every red spot above.

The progression.
My rotator cuff started acting up in October, and for awhile, even up until PT, I thought it was from swinging on the rings.  It was weird though, as I could not put my finger on any particular moment that caused it to hurt.  My physical therapist said that given my profession and his "analysis" of me, my rotator cuff issues could be simply solved by fixing my posture and sitting up straight.  He also predicted that I would have future hip problems.  He wasn't the first to say so but regardless, I kind of blew it off and forgot about it.

A few months later, my hip started to hurt.  It literally felt like a pain in the ass.  Like my rotator cuff, I could not put my finger on any specific moment that caused it to hurt.  I went to the doctor, and had an MRI and everything done to it.  Turns out my hip flexors have been super inflamed and filled with fluids, for awhile.  In fact, they were surprised I wasn't in more pain!  During this time, I got second opinions and they all seem to agree that the root cause was sitting with poor posture!

So for the past couple months I've been subbing and/or scaling movements.  I'm relatively fine now but I remember feeling weak and not like an off day kind of weak, but just weak.  I haven't experienced much injuries from sports... because I never played sports growing up, so I guess you can call me a noob.  I know I don't have much to complain about but I was so frustrated and bitter!  That being said, I'm making a huge effort to break some bad habits.

My AI's Now.
Habits are hard to break.  Breaking my long hours at the desk habit is crucial to healing.  Here are a few things I'm trying out to break this habit.
  • Hourly alarms reminding me to get up and walk around.
  • Standing desk trial at home.  Ghetto I know, but it's not a bad idea before deciding to fully commit to one.
  • Chair sampling.
  • AM & PM foam rolling on the hip.  This feels great. 
  • Rotator cuff strengthening exercises: external and internal band resistance exercises.  3x10 of each, a couple times a week
  • Reminding myself to bring my shoulders back and down so that my neck is in line with my shoulders.
  • Post-it note reminders to sit up tall, proud, and and straight up.

Analyzing Myself.
With all these injuries coming up from sitting, I've been doing a lot of thinking on how I weigh my values.  I always believed in working hard and being very dedicated to work.  I like getting more responsibilities, more ownership, and ultimately, more work.  More work meant longer days and longer hours... hunched over at the desk.  In exchange, I totally neglected the effects on my health and my body.  Sure, eventually, I started working out and making wiser food decisions, and as a result, I got sick less.  But I was missing something even bigger.  It's not just health.  It's also taking care of my body.  Everything adds up.  All the stress I've put on my lower back, neck, hips, rotator cuffs, and who know what's next, grew.  I created bad habits and my body dealt with the consequences.  External pain is just as bad and as harmful on productivity.  What good is all this hard work when it can easily be challenged from neglecting your health and body?

I don't think my workload will change anytime soon and in some ways, I don't want that part to change.  But at least now I am well aware of the problem, and I'm making a conscious effort to fix my posture at the desk.

So in summary, you can work out for an hour each day, but there's still another 23 hours to screw up.  This applies to sitting and posture, but can also extend to eating and such too.  The root cause for injuries aren't always from physical activity.  It can be from something as dull and mundane as sitting, or other highly-repeatable behaviors.