Time in the Box is hard, but time at your desk is tougher…

GymGym Chair

GymyGym exercise chair - Workout at officeSo here I am, 10 weeks into my Crossfit journey. Today I was tapped on the shoulder by one of the coaches and told I was no longer in Elements; Level 1 WOD for me from next week. I felt understandably proud initially, pleased at the recognition and the relative speed with which I have got there. Then I calmed down a bit and played back all of the scaled-down Elements WOD’s that had still destroyed me over the previous weeks. No more ‘easy way’ from here on in. Elation was quickly replaced with trepidation….

Before this morning’s quantum shift I have been thinking about some of the recovery and adaptation issues I have faced since starting at CF Central London. My most persistent issue is a left shoulder muscle knot that has led to referral pains in the base of my skull and neck. I have been hammering it with the Lacrosse ball and the Mrs has been kind enough to add her skills to the area also. Last week I was pretty sure I had nailed it but then it flared back up after a two day break from the box, both days spent driving a desk (where I am sitting now). It was then that it struck me; in fact I heard Mark Lauren’s words (www.marklauren.com) regarding our sedentary lifestyles. The contrast between functional fitness training and ‘life’ as an office worker could not be starker; however it is a reality that I and many others have to face (at least for a while longer!). With this in mind I have come up with 6 tips to help the pink-handed office boys and girls with their adaptation pains. As those of you that have read my previous blogs will know, I have frequently made the transition between driving a desk and swinging a hammer, so I feel I am well placed to offer some guidance on this;


  1. Take care of your hands and they will take care of you – right up there with back pain as a show stopper are ripped up hands. For Crossfitters it’s typically bar work that does the damage (as @SimonAJohnson shows in his recent tweet!). For me it was always the first few times using a shovel or spade again after a lay off that did the damage. Chalk really does help reduce the friction, don’t be afraid to be the chalk monkey! The building site version was cement powder (before or after blistering!) I used to use surgical spirit between working to toughen up the pads – works well but not advisable if you already have damage! Of course you can use gloves, but personally I am not a fan as my inner Shaolin Monk feels that they impair the journey….
  2. Keep moving between WODS – particularly upper body – it’s pretty easy to keep legs, hips and core moving in everyday situations, far harder to get some mobility into shoulders, arms and back. As a now hardened London commuter I have a few tricks here. I rarely walk down escalators to the tube, instead choosing to balance on one leg to get keep my hyper-mobile ankles nice and tight. Public transport is perfect for shoulder mobility! On buses and tubes there are pretty much CF racks available to rotate the girdle, perform semi-dislocates, turn-aways, even the odd partial pull-up! London is great for people pointedly ignoring any odd behaviour of this type – not sure how this would go down in other places however.
  3. Lower back needs releasing after sitting – no easy one here really. I just taken to downward dogs in toilet cubicles (clean ones!), and taking any opportunity to put rotation into my lumber region. At the very least get a gentle rotation on as soon as you get enough discrete and clean floor space!
  4. Buy a rucksack, and use it – for ladies with a maxi-handbag fixation reading this I have nothing to say other than – stop it! (Yeah – right…). For others without that preference hindering them you need to get rid of your courier-style bag and just buy a half decent rucksack. Having a permanent twist applied to your frame for hours each day just doesn’t help.
  5. Ask your employer to provide a DSE Workstation Assessment – yes, so if my facilities manager reads this he will laugh as I never fill mine in (I know..) but your employer is obliged to look at your position at the desk in detail and they have plenty of supporting information and guidance on this. Take advantage of it!
  6. Learn to grade your pain – not all issues are serious enough to require a lay-off from training, make sure that you work on understanding what ‘acceptable’ levels of adaptation discomfort are. Your CF coaches will be able to give guidance on this so take full advantage of their skills in terms of both diagnosis and suggested self-fixes (if you really want to step the self-fix up then subscribe to http://www.mobilitywod.com/

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