7 Ways to Combat a “WFH Bod” with Primal Movements
Updated: Jan 13
As the workforce is increasingly becoming more and more “remote” oriented, you may find yourself being a lot less active than you used to be. Besides maybe slacking on the big things you used to do day-in, day-out like your morning run or trip to the gym, it’s actually a whole bunch of little things that can be taking a major toll on your mobility and health.
Back to back conference calls that leave you sitting in a chair, staring at a screen for the better part of the day can wreck havoc on your neck, back, and hips. The good news is that we can help improve our body’s mobility in as little as 7 minutes a day simply by focusing on what is known as Primal Movements.
Primal movements are simply the basic ways our body is meant to move. These movements can be tailored to your fitness level and environment, so take a break (or two, or three) each day and let your body stretch and move in space instead of being confined to a coffin-like chair.
With all these movements, it’s important to note that proper form is essential for getting the most benefit out of the stretch and preventing injury. If you’re unsure what proper (and improper) form looks like, take a look at this video by Heather Robertson on her YouTube channel - it does a great job explaining it all!
You squat every day getting in and out of chairs, but let’s not take this important movement for granted. What would your day be like if you *couldn’t* squat? [insert face of horror here] To make sure the lack of daily movement doesn’t stiffen up your hip flexors, try holding a squat position for at least a minute each day, or multiple times a day if you can.
Stand up, put your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart, hands behind your head and bend down slowly while keeping your upper body upright - just as you would if you were getting in a chair. You can spice this movement up by doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions or even adding weight to your squats.
Lunges are likely more done in the sports scene than at home, but you probably lunge occasionally when you’re picking up something off the floor. This type of movement has one leg with the knee bent at a 90* angle while the other leg is stretched out. You can do a lunge forward and backward, but also side-to-side.
This movement is important because the muscles involved are what would help us get up off the floor. Ever see the commercial for Life Alert, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”? Don’t let that happen to you! Hold this position on each side of the body for at least 30 seconds a day to keep legs and core strong and flexible.
Stand up, hands straight out or to your side, move one single leg a step forward and bend to form a right angle. You can make this movement more challenging by doing multiple sets of repetitions or by adding additional weight like a medicine ball or even a pair of dumbbells.
All day, every day! You got this! How many times a day do you think you use this movement already? If you’re sitting at a desk typing away most of the day, even the simplest of movements, like pushing, can take a backseat. I bet you didn’t know there are 2 types of pushes and they are both important for your health.
Vertical pushes are when you push something over your head, engaging your shoulders and triceps. think about loading the overhead compartment on a plane with your luggage. Horizontal pushes are when you are pushing something away from your chest, like the all too familiar push-up exercise.
If you’re not up to snuff enough to drop and give me twenty, an easy low-impact way to do this movement is simply by standing up with a wall in front of you, placing your hands on the wall, shoulder width apart, finally leaning in to the wall with your body weight and slowly pushing yourself back.
The opposite of pushing, pulling brings something toward you rather than away. For example, think about starting a lawnmower or reaching for something high up in a cabinet. And just like pushing, pulling too has a horizontal and vertical type.
Maybe you’re like me and was never able to do a pull-up in gym class, even if it was for the Presidential Fitness Test? That’s OK. Practice the pulling movement at home in between conference calls by grabbing an object that fits in your hands, standing up and bending your upper body forward, and pulling your elbow up - keeping it close to your body - until the object in your hand reaches your chest. This can also be upgraded by increasing sets, repetitions, and increasing the weight of the object in your hand. Consider using your laundry detergent!
Being able to twist is a rotational movement that allows you to reach across your body. Practicing this movement at home can be done in both sitting and standing fashion.
For a seated abdominal twist, sit in your chair with your knees at a 90* angle and your back straight, bring your elbows up parallel to your shoulders, and twist slowly to the right and left. The standing twist is the same motion but you’ll stand with your feet shoulder width apart while moving.
Note**If you’re using the video I shared (above) for the rules of good posture for these basic body movements, the bending motion is called “deadlift” in the video.
There’s no avoiding the fact that bending is a necessary evil in life! If you have toddlers like I do, I think I can safely say I bend 1,000 times every day. Strengthening this practice will help keep you safe from lower back injury, especially over time through the aging process. It is also most important that you learn the proper way to bend to avoid injury in daily life, just as it is important to have proper form during your exercise.
Remember, bending should focus more on engaging your hips, legs, and glutes rather than the back. To practice at home, start without using any weight resistance to make sure you don’t overdo it. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, gently bend your knees and your upper body should aim to be parallel with the floor. Keep your legs and glutes engaged and your back in its naturally arched position. Put your arms out in front of you, parallel to your legs, and use your legs, not your back, to help bring your body to the upright position.
You don’t need me to train you on this by now! Even if you might be working from home, there are several ways to incorporate extra walking during your work day.
If you have any conference calls that you can take away from your desk, take it on-the-go around the house or even venture outside if the weather’s looking nice! Get some sun, a little Vitamin D will do you good.
Primal movements are simply the basic ways your body is meant to move. These movements can be tailored to your fitness level and environment, so take a break (or two, or three) each day and let your body stretch and move in space instead of being confined to a coffin-like chair. an entertaining break in the monotony of the day.y
There’s a lot to do! Try not to feel overwhelmed, even if you start small by practicing one movement a day until you feel comfortable to move on, you’re still doing your body a favor. You’ll be increasing your activity level and supporting your body’s strength and flexibility. As you get better and better with your primal movements, challenge yourself! Increase sets and reps, add resistance with weights, increase your frequency, these are movements that we need to do well for the rest of our lives!
Live smarter, NOT HARDER.
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