T Nation

How Do Office Workers Do It


Now I say office workers, but this can pertain to anyone who sits for the majority of the day(in my case, being a student). I am 21 and in nursing school. I previously played college hockey and now that that is over I focus on lifting weights, so I have never been out of shape and definitely am not now. But, when I am in class for hours on end on my long days of the week, my knees and hips absolutely ache.

So, I wonder how some of the people who sit like that every day for work can stand it! What do some of you guys do to help your knees and hips when sitting for long periods of time?


I certainly want to avoid ever doing it again.


whats your experience?


I just found it boring and unfulfilling to put it mildly. The culture just wasn't my style, and I didn't really care much about what I was doing. I have since gone into business for myself. Once I finish college, I'll probably never work for someone else ever again.


Ten to fourteen hours a day in a chair looking at computer screens for 8 years. Breakfast and lunch are at my desk.

Unfortunately, you get used to it. Your glutes will turn off, your hip flexors will become hypertonic and shortened, your TA and RA will atrophy and your erectors will be under constant, low level tension. After a few years of this, they will become so fatigued that they will spasm at any time, for any reason. Bumping in to a table or sneezing can be enough to put you in bed for 3 days. Vicodin and flexoral become your best friends.

As your abdominal muscles atrophy, you develop thoracic kyphosis and "forward head" posture. At some point, your soft tissue will actually remodel and this posture will become irreversible.

Any other questions?


Just drink tons of coffee, tea, water or whatever to assure you have to go to the bathroom every half hour.

Or you could do what I did and set up a gym in the warehouse so you can train on your lunch break.


fuck. Thats pretty brutal. Im glad once I get into the workforce when I'm at the hospital Ill be up and moving for the better part of the 12 hours.

But, what did you do to try to mitigate the effects? or what would you recommend to do?


That would be nice to train between classes but my gym is not at my school, nor do I have time. That would be nice though. And I though about just getting up periodically, but I don't want to miss anything


it fuckin sucks.

Im considering making a lateral move (pay-wise) to a job where i would be on my feet most of the day and outdoors, Chicago winters when its -10 and summers when its 100.... just because im so worried about the effects all this sitting has on my body

And as was said, its completely unfulfilling, no matter the money.

be grateful that your situation is only temporary


Well I fuckin hate office jobs too, but I'll be a little ray of sunshine in this thread I guess and make the claim that the physiological effects of sitting at a desk all day can be fully countered. Just make sure you squat. Do hip flexor stretches, dislocations with a pvc pipe, thoracic spine stretches, and just squat often. It's worked for me.


I get up regularly to do some exercises such as bust out 5 pushups and a pair of single legged squats per leg. I'd probably do that about 5 times a day. Also like to do a few light stretches for my shoulders.


Just got a standing desk at work to avoid all this.


I have what is pretty much a desk job, but I do get up and move every chance I get. I'm out on the assembly floor, machine shop, meetings, etc. If I was shackled to the desk (some jobs like you to do that), I couldn't do it. I get my leg days in at the gym which helps. I take a joint supplement to keep things lubed up.


Frequent walks help but the benefit to being an office drone is I can go all out often at the gym, as long as I can make it to my desk, it doesn't effect my job. I also stand a lot while I'm on the phone, and its part of my job to be cross departmental, so I get around a lot.

In the gym I work my posterior chain, upper back, and shoulders (mainly OH work) hard to counter office life. I could do more ab work, but I don't think there is such a thing as "enough ab work" anyways. These priorities also align with strongman style training, so that's what I am doing. My back and shoulders are pretty much always sore, but have never felt better.


I feel exactly the same way as TheKraken. I throw in some heavy bag work at the end of my workouts, too.


Working at a desk doesn't have to affect your posture but you have to be VERY proactive about how you handle things. My most difficult patients are those who sit all day but refuse to take any measures to mitigate the damage they're doing to their body. The best advice I've seen, and it's advice I give almost daily, is to drink so much liquid that bathroom breaks have you up walking around every 15-30 minutes.


Sitting at my desk wreaks havoc on my mobility.

Prior to every squat workout I spend 30min opening up my hips, stretching my calves and sometimes my hamstrings if they're especially tight. Funny, I went on vacation for 3 weeks where I walked around nonstop and when I got the one workout in, my hips, calves and hamstrings were all loose and I didn't have to warm up at all prior to squatting!

I also experience shoulder and neck pain but I minimize it by stretching my pecs, lats, and forearms once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I make it a habit to get up 3-5x a day but this is pretty easy because I drink 2L of water + 2 cups of green tea daily.

Ultimately I've realized I need to develop some sort of online business in order to avoid this lifestyle. I haven't yet come up with an idea but once I have it, I'm hoping to step away from my current profession forever. Not only does it kill your health, but you make a drop in a bucket compared to the business owner you work for. Lastly, you don't really meet a whole lot of cool people working in front of a computer all day. The lionshare of office worker types are boooooooooooooring.

tl;dr ultimate freedom, health and vitality comes from owning your own online business


I work at a desk, and while it's obviously not good for your health, let's not confuse all office jobs with each other and damn them as unfulfilling murder holes. They're not. That's your job. If you don't like your job, you're an asshole for staying. If you have to stay, then whatever, but don't blame the building for your crappy job.

Things I do to counteract 8 hours of sitting:

  1. Take the stairs. I work 7 floors up, and I take the stairs in the morning, at lunch, and when I leave. So it's not optimal, but I'm still walking 28 flights of stairs every day and it's better than nothing.

  2. Get up constantly. I get water, I go to the bathroom, I walk across the floor to the printer. Whatever. Just get up.

  3. I try to maintain good posture when I'm sitting. Keep an arch in the back, keep the shoulders pulled back. Anything in order to not get that office worker- hunch.

  4. I box, so when I go to the bathroom - and I go several times a day because I'm drinking water like crazy - I end up doing light and easy shadowboxing. It's obviously not a workout, but just getting a little bit here, a little bit there, and getting my blood moving ... well, it does wonders.

  5. Planks.


Don't use one of those lower back support things. I think they can be helpful alleviate discomfort once you actually have problems, but they only make it worse until then.

I know what you mean by the pain, though. I work from home, so I do most of my work in a lounging position (which is better than sitting), but I was forced to do about 10 hours at the desk one day and I somehow injured my hip doing that. I couldn't squat for 2-3 weeks.



  1. Douche-y phone ear piece and pace around my desk
  2. Work back chain viciously at gym multiple times
  3. walk backwards on an inclined treadmill at a slow pace helped my knees. Not sure why, but I got a wild hair and did it
  4. Serious stretching of hamstrings. I like to get in a doorframe, lay down, stick one leg through the door and one vertically. No idea what this is called, but I do it. I also stretch my back by rolling my legs backwards over my head like a backwards somersault, which is probably stupid, but it feels good.