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Training for Work - Avoiding the "Breakdown Zone"

Training for work

Training for Work

The average NFL player works 8-10 hours per day. They do active practice, are in meetings, in the weight room, and review their playbooks/films.

My average patient has a similar schedule. They take meetings, do computer work, and maybe even commute to and from the office for an hour or more a few days a week. The majority of my patients have a 9-10 hours of working per day, 5 or more days a week.

To be honest, the only difference is the number of hours seated on the job. You, my friend, are a “Workplace Athlete”. A NFL player spends time training their body for their job, and you should be no different.

The 2 biggest complaints I have from my desk workers is neck and low back pain and tightness. Sometimes, we’ll even see pain, tingling, or numbness traveling into the arms or legs.

Training for the job you have is important, but the sad truth is, most people don’t know how.

There are demands for our bodies, and there is the ability for us to meet that demand. The gap between the demand and meeting the demand is what I call the “Breakdown Zone”. This is the zone where injuries occur.

To minimize your “Breakdown Zone”, there are 2 things you can do:

  • Increase ability to meet the demand

  • Decrease the demand

Increase ability to meet demand

If you are sitting for 8+ hours per day, your muscles are going to get tired, tight, and possibly painful. Sitting for long hours puts a lot of pressure on the discs between the spine bones, which over time, will put you at greater risk of a disc injury that is painful.

In order to improve the ability for your muscles to meet the demand, then you need to improve the endurance of the muscles. The low back muscles are often times the ones that are most aggravated in the day-to-day desk worker’s life.

In order to increase the ability to meet the demands of your sitting job, there are 4 exercises I recommends for my patients


Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders, and knees

under your hips.

Tighten the abdominal core muscles.

Extend the opposite leg and the opposite arm simultaneously, making sure your

maintain good control in your torso.

Do not allow your body or hips to rotate.

Repeat on the other side.


Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Place both hands, palm down, under the small of your back.

Straighten one leg down onto the floor.

Keep your gaze directly above you on the ceiling, and tense your abdominal


You may find pressing your tongue into the roof of your mouth helps to support

your neck whilst performing this exercise.

Raise your head and shoulders off the floor 1 to 2 inches, then lift your elbows.

Hold this position.

Control the movement as you lower back down onto the floor and relax.

Side Plank

Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow.

Bend your knees and lift your hips off the mat until you have a straight line from

your knees to the top of your head.

Hold this position for as long as you can.

Banded Glute Bridge

Place a resistance band loop around both thighs, just above your knees.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Place legs hips width apart so that there is tension in the band.

Raise your hips up into a bridge, keeping the knees hips width apart.

Control the movement back down to the start position, maintaining constant

tension on the band.

BONUS: Getting enough restful sleep, staying properly hydrated, eating a nutritionally dense diet, and being active outside of work are all ways you can increase your ability to meet the demands of the job.

Decrease Demand

One of the easiest ways to decrease the demand on your body throughout the workday is to employ Ergonomic and Posture best practices. Though it is true that people who have inefficient posture practices are not necessarily going to develop back pain or neck pain, it is common that inefficient posture practices are a trigger for many who experience neck or back pain.

General guidelines for posture: head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips and knees at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor.

Having a set-up for your workstation will help you build and maintain an efficient posture position. You can take a free, comprehensive workstation assessment here

Additionally, making sure you are getting up and moving around at least once per hour can help give your muscles a break and help them relax so that you can minimize the tightness in them throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

The primary goal I have for all my patients is to minimize that “Breakdown Zone”. By designing workout programs for them that address their specific needs, making sure we address any current pain issues, and providing them the resources and tools to improve their ability and decrease demand, I find that they improve faster, and are able to maintain those improvements longer. This means less stress for them, less money spect on care, and a happier, healthier quality of life.

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