Clicky

Staying Healthy and Mobile In Retirement

New Reader? Get free regular updates from Can I Retire Yet? on saving, investing, retiring, and retirement income. New articles weekly. Join more than 18,000 subscribers. Unsubscribe at any time:

I’m passionate about helping people use their money to live a better life. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and recently finished a book manuscript to these ends. But I have no formal training in investing or financial planning.

I’m also passionate about helping people improve their health and fitness to live a better life. I’ve spent a couple decades developing expertise as a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer. Yet I’ve never written about exercise, injury prevention, and overall physical health.

I recently participated in a panel discussion on the What’s Up Next? Podcast discussing the connection between financial independence and physical health and fitness. That conversation clarifies how physical and fiscal health are each vital to living life to the fullest. It also inspired me to start sharing my knowledge and experience related to living healthier lives and remaining active as we age.

Part of my desire to retire as a physical therapist was boredom. There was tremendous repetition in the presentation of common faulty postures and movement patterns. They required similar interventions to alleviate my client’s symptoms and prevent recurrence. The same movement patterns and same solutions were seen over and over. . . and over again.

Treating these impairments became monotonous for me when performed repeatedly in a one on one setting. However, they provide the perfect place to start writing about this topic.

Exercising correctly can keep you mobile and healthy. This in turn allows you to enjoy the retirement you’re working, or have worked, so hard to achieve.

I’ll start today with common mobility issues that predispose you for injury. Next month, I’ll follow up with ideas on maintaining and improving strength as we age.

Can/Should You DIY?

Before diving into common mobility issues and how to address them, let’s start with a foundational question. Can and should you try to exercise on your own or should you seek professional help and guidance?

Similar to financial issues, there is no universal right or wrong answer. I recommend that you be honest with yourself. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish with things as important as your health and fitness (or your money).

Even if you have the requisite interest, knowledge, and motivation to improve your mobility and fitness, some problems are inherently harder for you to manage on your own. Examples are stiffness of the shoulders, thoracic spine (upper back), hips and certain movements at the ankle.

As with personal finance, there are many “experts” in the area of health, fitness, and exercise who disperse bad information. A large part of my physical therapy practice was picking up their broken pieces.

I will provide you with simple exercises to prevent common movement impairments before they become symptomatic. If you are unable to perform any movement without pain, stop and seek qualified help from a fitness or health professional.

If you have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions, it is vital that you seek help from a qualified professional. I recommend seeking out a physical therapist over other fitness professionals who generally have little or no training regarding injuries or disease processes.

Upper Body Posture

We tend to sit too much from classrooms to desk jobs to home PCs, commuting in cars, and working/playing on electronics devices. This leads to a most people having poor sitting posture.

This poor posture manifests with the same impairments:

  • Reversal of normal lumbar curve (slouched lower back)
  • Excessive thoracic kyphosis (rounded/hunched upper back)
  • Excessive cervical extension (looking up)
  • Protracted/downward rotated scapula (rounded shoulders)
  • Internally rotated shoulders (palms back)
  • Loss of shoulder extension (inability to reach arms back away from back)

Slouch

These postural impairments rarely will occur in isolation. Instead, they build upon one another.

For example, try to sit with a slouchy posture and pinch your shoulder blades together. It feels very abnormal if not impossible.

Now sit up tall and do the same movement. Assuming you have not lost the muscle control to pinch your shoulder blades together, it will feel natural.

Cervical (neck) extension is a compensation for a rounded lower and middle back. If you didn’t compensate, you’d spend the whole day looking at your feet. Thus we extend at our neck to keep our eyes looking straight ahead.

Trying to stretch tight upper neck muscles without addressing posture lower in the chain is futile. Conversely, you may be able to correct downstream compensations without directly intervening if you can address root causes.

These postural impairments are associated with the most common complaints I saw as a physical therapist. This includes low back pain, lumbar disc herniations, mid-back pain, neck pain, cervical radiculopathy, tension headaches, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injuries and thoracic outlet syndrome. Even though patients present with a wide variety of symptoms and diagnoses, interventions tend to look remarkably similar.

Simple First Steps

Most people can’t get away from sitting. Gravity is constantly at work. Therefore, you don’t “correct” this posture as much as you manage it. This requires consistency with positioning and exercise.

For people who spend a large portion of their day sitting, the first and easiest solution is to start by improving low back support. Everything else will automatically improve.

lumbar roll

As noted above, if you can improve the position of the lumbar spine it actually takes work to slouch the upper back, have rounded shoulders, etc.

There are many lumbar support products out there. But we want to save more, invest (in our health) better, and retire sooner. Conveniently, a frugal solution is also the optimal solution here.

A great fix is to roll up a towel and place it in the small of the back, just above your sacrum (tailbone). This will force you to maintain a more neutral low back while sitting. This causes everything above to passively improve as well.

Your towel is also customizable. You can experiment with larger or smaller supports until you find your position of comfort.

Another helpful tip is to customize the place(s) that you sit most to promote ideal posture. For example, get into a good posture and then adjust the rear view mirror in your car. What you see (or don’t see) in your mirror will provide feedback to your posture.

Composite Upper Body Motions

Because these impairments tend to occur together, they can be addressed with a few simple exercises that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. The key with any exercise program is to establish goals and realistic expectations.

Because we spend so much time sitting with poor posture we face a constant fight against gravity. So these exercises need to become a part of your daily routine for them to be effective. Rather than thinking you will change your posture radically, think of the exercises as “postural breaks.”  The goal is to alleviate the constant strain on your soft tissues. None of these movements should cause any pain, though you should experience a mild stretching sensation.

Over time this may lead to lasting structural changes as well. But that process is slow.

Bilateral Shoulder External Rotation With Breathing

bilat er

The first two exercises require no equipment, very little time and can be performed anywhere. Thus, they can and should be performed frequently. It is helpful to use some type of cueing to make this habit. Examples are setting an alarm on your phone to go off every 1-2 hours, performing the exercises in the car at every red light, etc.

The first exercise helps reverse faulty posture with one gentle and fluid movement. Start by slightly tightening the abdominals and sitting erect. Bend the elbows and keep them tight at your side.

Take a deep breath in while gently rotating the shoulders so the hands move away from the body. Do not force the movement, because this tends to make you shrug the shoulder blades and tilt them forward which is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.

Instead, focus on allowing the movement of your arms help pinch the shoulder blades down and back while you extend your upper back. On your exhalation, reverse the movements so you can feel the difference between the “good” and “bad” postures and learn to move between them. Repeat 10 breaths/movements.

Scapular Retraction/Depression

scap retract

Sit upright or stand with your arms at your side. Rotate your arms so the palms face forward.

Pinch the shoulder blades together and then reach for the floor by depressing the shoulder blades. Hold 5-10 seconds. Start with 10 repetitions.

This exercise has two purposes. First, it provides a gentle stretch on the chest and neck muscles which get tight with a typical sitting posture.

Second, it activates the scapular stabilizing muscles that tend to become stretched, inhibited and weak.

Thus it is a prerequisite to performing more advanced upper body strengthening exercises.

Foam Roller Positioning

foam roller

The next exercise requires a high density foam roller. This is an inexpensive and versatile tool that is a valuable addition to any home gym. The roller should be long enough to support from the top of your head to your tailbone.

Simply lie on your back with the foam roller supporting your spine. Flex your hips and knees so your feet are flat on the floor, allowing you to feel stable and relaxed.

Assuming you don’t have fixed deformities of the spine, the lower and upper back will naturally assume improved positions. You can gently tuck your chin towards your chest to alleviate strain on the muscles of the upper neck.

Allow your arms to fall out to the side with the elbows bent. This provides a gentle stretch on your pectoral (chest) muscles and puts the shoulders into a position of external rotation.

If this position is uncomfortable on the shoulders or you have a history of shoulder pathology, you can instead try a less stressful position of lying with your arms at your side to start.

Do at least one minute in this position. You can maintain the position for as long as it is comfortable and do it as often as possible.

Lower Body Mobility

There are common repetitive patterns of mobility loss in the lower extremities as well. Several of these are related to too much sitting.

As with the upper body, these common impairments are associated with a variety of symptoms and diagnoses including low back pain, hip and knee arthritis/pain, patellofemoral pain (pain in the front of the knee), achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

In the lower extremity, mobility issues nearly always involve tightness of the muscle groups that cross two different joints. They include the hip flexors (cross the lumbar spine and hip joints), the quadriceps and hamstrings (cross the hip and knee joints) and calf muscles (cross the knee and ankle joints).

This loss of muscle flexibility can be accompanied by loss of mobility at the hip, knee or ankle joints. Restoring lost joint mobility may require skilled therapy or even surgical interventions in some circumstances.  

The flexibility exercises are a good starting point, assuming you are gentle and the exercises are able to be performed pain-free. If you experience pain with these movements or are not noting any improvement in mobility over time, seek qualified medical help.

There is not an optimal duration or frequency for performing the exercises. More often and longer duration are generally better. A good starting point is holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeating three times. Do the stretches daily.

Hip Flexor Stretching

hip flexor

Hip flexion is the position of the hips when sitting. Thus the muscles that flex the hips are frequently in a shortened position, contributing to their tightness.

The psoas major is one of the hip flexor muscles that originates on the lumbar spine and crosses the front of the hip joint. Stretching it properly requires extending the hip (the opposite of flexion) while also maintaining a stable lumbar spine.

The easiest way to stretch the hip flexors is to place the knee of the leg to be stretched on the ground (use padding under the knee). The opposite foot is placed flat on the floor. Then shift your weight forward until a comfortable pulling is felt in the front of the hip/upper thigh.

Maintain the position of your trunk. Avoid leaning forward which flexes the hip and prevents proper stretching. Avoid arching the back which places unnecessary strain on it.

Hamstrings Stretching

ham stretch

The hamstrings consist of three muscles that sit on the back of the thigh. All three originate on the pelvis and attach on the lower leg. Their function is to flex (bend) the knee and extend (opposite of flexion) the hip.

Stretching the hamstrings requires straightening the knee and flexing the hip without slouching at the lower back (slouching tilts the pelvis and shortens the hamstrings). This subtle distinction of stabilizing the pelvis means that most people don’t stretch their hamstrings, even when they try.

The easiest way to position yourself properly to stretch the hamstrings is to lie on your back in a doorway. Place one leg flat on the floor. Place the heel of the leg you are stretching on the door jam while keeping the knee straight. Gradually scoot in toward the doorway until a comfortable pull is felt in the back of the leg. Stop if you start to feel the pelvis rotate or lift from the floor.

Quadriceps Stretching

quad stretch

The quadriceps are the four large, powerful muscles that sit on the front of the thigh. Their primary action is to extend (straighten) the knee. Three of the four quads originate on the femur (thigh bone), don’t cross the hip joint and, unless immobilized, rarely get tight so they don’t  need to be stretched.

So stretching the quadriceps really means stretching the rectus femoris. This is the fourth quadriceps muscle and the only one that crosses the hip joint. This is an important distinction, because it dictates how you stretch the muscle.

To perform this stretch, stand on the opposite leg. Place one hand on a wall or counter top for balance. Bend the knee of the leg you want to stretch as far as possible by grabbing the ankle. You can use a towel around the ankle to assist you.

To stretch the rectus femoris, you also need to extend the hip. You accomplish this by driving the pelvis forward while pulling the knee back under the body.

Calf Stretching

calf stretch

The “calf muscle” is actually a group of muscles. The gastrocnemius is one of the group which crosses both the back of the knee and ankle joints and is what most often becomes tight.

As a group, the primary action of the calf muscles is to plantarflex the ankle (lift you from flat foot to standing on toes). Tightness of the calf prevents dorsiflexion of the ankle (bringing the top of the foot toward the shin).

Loss of dorsiflexion range of motion of the ankle leads to compensations that contribute to many lower extremity problems. Adequate dorsiflexion is required for proper squatting, descending stairs and walking up hills or ramps.

To stretch the gastrocnemius, stand with the hands against a wall with the feet staggered. The foot you are stretching should be back, flat on the floor, with the toes pointed directly to the wall. To isolate the gastrocnemius, keep the knee straight. Shift your weight forward until a stretch is felt in the calf.

Muscle tightness is only one cause of decreased ankle dorsiflexion. If you are limited by discomfort or tightness in the front of the ankle before feeling any stretch in the calf musculature, don’t force the motion.

Get Moving

Having adequate mobility is the foundation upon which all other fitness can then be built. Higher level strength, balance and functional exercises are pointless at best and dangerous at worst in the absence of basic mobility.

The exercises shared in this post are very basic by design. They provide the foundation for normal pain free mobility which enables daily function and higher level activities.

I’ve prescribed some variation of the exercises outlined to nearly every patient that walked into my physical therapy clinic over the past fifteen years. I also incorporate these foundational movements into my daily routine. Gradually start incorporating them into your routine to keep yourself moving and healthy.

* * *

* * *

Disclosure: Some links on this site, like the Amazon links, may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on one of these links and buy from the affiliated company, then we receive some small compensation. The modest income helps to keep this blog going. Affiliate links do not increase your cost, and we only use them for products or services that we're familiar with and that we feel may deliver value to you. By contrast, we have limited control over most of the display ads on this site. Though we do attempt to block objectionable content. Buyer beware.

Comments

  1. These are fantastic. I think we don’t put enough emphasis on stretching as an exercise and how much it can affect our health. The downside to addressing and back pains or other joint issues in conventional medicine is that it ends up in unnecessary xrays or medications. If you have access to a solid physical therapist then that’s the best first place to go instead of your doctor. If cost is an issue and you are worried about insurance approval, I suggest emailing your doctor and asking for the referral. As a physician in a traditional clinic setting I don’t have the same time and expertise needed to guide my patients through their injuries or musculoskeletal issues for rehabilitation. A great physical therapist can mean the difference of needing a shoulder replacement surgery versus managing the shoulder issue conservatively.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Dr. Ashori,

      Thank you for sharing that opinion! An area of immense frustration for me in my years of practice was dealing with many MD’s who were more worried about protecting their turf than doing what is best for patients. Can’t agree more that far too many medicines are prescribed and tests are ordered by MDs who have little training in evaluating the musculoskeletal system. This drives up health care costs with unnecessary medications and tests. The meds create side effects. The tests often produce false positives. All of this further wastes time and dollars.

      I’ve been saying this for years and it is backed up in medical literature, but it means so much more to many patients to hear it from a MD than from a PT. So again I thank you for stating it publicly.

      Best,
      Chris

  2. Nancy in the mountains says

    Thank you Chris for an awesome post…..as I have been busy getting my financial house in order to “retire” early (meaning making time for the bucket list items) I have been inadvertently edging out my physical movement care. Move it or lose it! Thanks for the reminder. Health is the most important wealth we have.

  3. Bravo! This is so important and thank you for bringing it forward.

  4. Red Pill Pharmacy says

    Essential reading:

    Designed to Move, by Dr. Joan Vernikos (former NASA Director of Life Sciences)

    • Chris Mamula says

      Hadn’t heard of the book, so just Googled it. Looks interesting. Added to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Thank you for the exercises! Do you have adaptations or suggestions for “older retirees” for getting down to the floor and back up without hands or other aids? This is supposed to be the new measure of longevity…

    • Chris Mamula says

      Great questions Betsy. I thought long and hard about how to write this post to give actionable advice without putting people at risk. Here are modifications of the exercises that involve getting up and down from the floor.
      -Regarding lying on the foam roller: You can do a pectoral stretch standing in a doorway or corner. This is actually the way I generally instructed patients to do it b/c most don’t have the foam rollers. The problem here is there are many ways people compensate (arch back, put neck in awkward positions) or do the exercise in ways likely to be harmful to the shoulders (most notably hang body weight on shoulders). If you want to try this, be very careful and gentle.
      -Re: stretching the hip flexors: It is very difficult to do that effectively and safely on your own if you can’t get into the 1/2 kneeling position.
      -Re: quad stretching: You can try that lying on your stomach if difficult to stand on one leg, but it is awkward.
      -Re: stretching the hamstrings: There are many ways to do it. The easiest is to sit at the edge of a chair with the foot out in front of you and lean forward by sticking the chest out w/o rounding the lower back. But most people will end up rounding their lower back which does not accomplish what you’re trying to do. Harmless, but ineffective at best.

      Long answer short, there are ways to do these things. But there are not easy ways to instruct a mass audience to do them correctly and my first duty is to do no harm. So if you’re going to try any of these modifications, proceed with caution! This is why it is valuable to have one on one instruction if you are on the consumer side and not sure what you’re doing. It just gets repetitive and is inefficient if you are on the provider side of doing it every day, which is why I stopped.

  6. Chris, this is a fabulous post and I am for sure going to do the exercises. While I am older than the average FIREs, my wife was able to retire 4 years early and I was able to retire 2 years earlier than planned by reading wonderful blogs like yours over a 10 year stretch and working with a fee only financial planner. It’s a blessing to be able to not worry about finances. I walk and hike, but the stretching exercises are well explained and doable. Thank you for this, and grab life by the tail! You have earned it.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Thanks for the kind words JB. Much appreciated! Enjoy your retirement.

      Best,
      Chris

      • Thank you, Chris. I much appreciate “do no harm”. I will dust off my foam roller and check out one on one.

  7. Wade Shanley says

    Very timely. I turned 50 last year…and man I feel like crap every morning…lower/mid back pain, neck pain you name it. Lots of sitting in my job, long hours. Also I need to get a proper chair. I tend to work from home so I sit on a bar stool at the kitchen island to work. I know, not optimal but I’ll try the towel thing to start.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Wade,

      Agree, sitting is extremely hard on your body. I always got it by observing others. Biggest downside for my “early retirement” is that I have spent more time sitting at a computer than ever before in my life over the past year and so experience some of the effects first hand for the first time ever. Still I sit 2-3 hours/day, 5-6 days/week at max. Can’t imagine doing 40+ hour work weeks at a desk + sitting in car commuting. Loving the posture exercises at the top of the post. Particularly the foam roller stretch.

      Best,
      Chris

  8. Wonderful!, these advices coming from a real professional ( vs a faked ones) convey a lot of weight, after all health and fitness rank first even before money.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Thanks Luis,

      Next week I have a post about tax planning so back to being a fake for me though. 😉

      Best,
      Chris

  9. Great tips Chris. Turns out white collar work has big physical risks, as you know from seeing the patients.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Sitting has very real risks for the musculoskeletal system, not to mention all the cardiovascular and metabolic issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Something I knew full well from my first act as a PT, but the podcast discussion really cemented how interrelated health and money are to improving life, so plan to explore this more in my writing.

  10. I would love your opinion about how swimming could benefit your health. I recently started swimming laps and it feels so good! Just curious how it actually helps the body besides the lack of stress on your joints and cardio. Any other major benefits? I am trying to decide how often I should swim versus do weights, treadmill/elliptical or yoga. I would love any suggestions!

    • Chris Mamula says

      DL,

      Good, but complex, question. I tend to think of exercise in terms of mode (swim, walk, bike, life weights), frequency (how often), duration (how long), and intensity (how hard you’re working).

      As I noted in this article, you need adequate mobility to perform your chosen mode (type) of exercise. Then you need the strength and endurance to maintain proper mechanics as you exercise. For swimming, you really need good thoracic extension and shoulder mobility. You also need strength and endurance of the muscles that stabilize your scapulae (shoulder blades) as well as of the rotator cuff muscles. If you don’t have all these things, you’re set up to eventually have shoulder impingement which leads to a bunch of other problems in the shoulder, the most common and debilitating being rotator cuff tears. I plan to touch on these strengthening/stabilization exercises in an upcoming post.

      In general, most people have postural issues as noted in this post which have associated strength issues as we’ll discuss in an upcoming post. Therefore, you need to be careful with the frequency, intensity and duration to avoid overuse injuries.

      If swimming makes you feel great, then I think it is awesome cardiovascular exercise with no impact on the joints in the lower extremity. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean more is better. A good idea may be to complement it with cross training with some of the other modes you mention.

      Hope that helps.

      Chris

  11. Good reminder on specifically how you can take care of yourself health wise in short spurts of time. I suspect I’m not the only one that separates exercise time (e.g. gym time) and office/desk time into big chunks of time. It’s much better to do frequent light exercises/stretches every day, throughout the day vs doing intense exercise 2-3 times a week and then sit around the rest of the time like I do. I’ll strive to do both going forward.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Agree Phillip. There is much that we can do to break up sedentary time with short bursts of exercise. But old habits die hard, so having some type of reminders/cues as I mention in the article as well as systems of accountability are key.

  12. Isabelle Karsh says

    Thank you so much for this great article with all the photos. I have been in physical therapy for over a year for frozen shoulders, C5-C6 ACDF surgery, and knee surgery, so the rehab has been critical. I love the photos as I will save them to remind myself as I will do these at home as well. Very much appreciated!

    • Chris Mamula says

      Thanks for the kind words Isabelle. Sound like a pretty awful year physically. Hopefully you’ve found a positive atmosphere to perform all that rehab. None of that sounds fun, particularly the frozen shoulders.

      Just a reminder to heed the warnings I placed in the post, as they were not just put there for lip service or as a CYA measure. If you have had all these issues, talk to your PT or MD before you try anything different than what they already have you doing. If you’re not doing something I talked about in this blog post, they may have reasons for that.

      Best wishes for a better year to come than the one you just had.

      Chris

  13. Chris, it seems like you found another great way to help retirees and wannabes. That’s a win! You know what else would really help some of us visual learners, a series of short videos with your assistant demonstrating each of the moves. One more thing to add to your site. And that we would call a win-win! Thanks for sharing your (other) expertise!

    • Chris Mamula says

      Steven,

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your comment. They recently switched the WordPress program that we use for publishing this blog. It took me a few hours of finagling and reverse engineering to get these pics all in there in a way that looked half presentable. I’ve realized that if I want to produce content that truly helps people I need to either quit being so lazy and learn how to do this tech stuff more professionally and efficiently, or quit being so cheap and hire someone to do it for me. I’m adding video to the list that I have to make that decision about.

      Thanks for the feedback,
      Chris

      • I thought Darrow owned the site and you were just contributing content. Did something change? Just curious.

        • Chris Mamula says

          Darrow and I partner on the site. We’ve never publicly discussed our arrangement, but we may at some point if it is appropriate.

  14. Chris, I completely agree with your statement, “physical and fiscal health are each vital to living life to the fullest.” I might add emotional health to that, also. Sadly, the majority of books, articles, blog posts, etc. that focus on investing for retirement only direct our attention toward the fiscal portion of that equation. Of course, a solid financial investing strategy is essential to successfully positioning yourself for retirement, early or otherwise. But investing early on in our physical health is crucial to maintaining an active lifestyle in retirement AND reducing the medical expenses that can have a major impact on our financial stability. Every co-pay I don’t make is money in my pocket. Every prescription I don’t have to fill is money in my pocket. Making regular contributions to an IRA or 401K and focusing on improving your health through diet, exercise and activities are both investments that will impact a retiree’s bottom line long into the future. Good post!

    • Chris Mamula says

      Mary,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I couldn’t agree more completely.

      If you are truly interested in overall health and how it ties in with our finances to create a better life, I would highly recommend the podcast episode I linked in the intro to this post. It was a really fun and interesting conversation between an exercise physiologist, a body-builder/vegan diet advocate, and myself giving perspective as a PT. The hosts are an MD and a real estate investor with no background in health or fitness. We discussed all aspects of health from diet and exercise to emotional and spiritual health and even use of alcohol and how they tie in with the pursuit of FI. Very fun discussion with a variety of viewpoints discussed respectfully.

      Best,
      Chris

  15. Here’s a hazard of retirement I didn’t see coming. My wife and I went on a fantastic three month, over 5,000 mile driving trip recently. Had a great time. I knew to stop and walk around every few hours. But towards the end of the trip I started having right shoulder and upper arm pain. By the time we got home I couldn’t abduct my right arm above 90 degrees. I never suspected long periods of driving could lead to bursitis and impingement syndrome. But apparently that is what happened and I have since learned this is not uncommon. Yikes.

    I’m almost back to normal now after one shoulder injection and a program of stretching/strengthening exercises. I don’t want to go through that again. Any general advice so us retirees can enjoy long driving trips while preventing shoulder problems?

    Great article BTW.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Dave,

      I don’t have a great answer as to why that would set off shoulder bursitis/impingement unless you were sitting in an awkward position with the arm propped up for prolonged periods or were sleeping awkwardly in unfamiliar environments. Either way, glad to hear you seem to back on your way.

      Best,
      Chris

  16. Agree 100% that there are physical dangers in a desk job. I currently have limited rotation in my right shoulder due to a rotator cuff injury and I have found that switching my mouse to the opposite side (in my case, the left side) forces me to balance the use of both sides of my upper body. It’s a small adjustment but it helps, and I feel like I’m practicing coordination as well.

  17. Great article Chris!

    Great to see a fellow ATC following the path to FI. I recently started on this path and have started to see that the two areas aren’t as far apart as people think. Can’t wait to see more posts from you on this topic!

    Have your read Kelly Starett’s book deskbound? Most read when it comes to this topic. It goes in to great detail on the effects of the seated position and strategies on how to combat it. Very much a mobility and postural book with a few of the same exercises you mentioned above.

    Again, great stuff and I hope to hear back from you.

    Ian ATC CSCS

    • Chris Mamula says

      I’ve not seen that book, but I’ve heard of him through Tim Ferriss and read some stuff on his blog which I think is very good.

      I’ve had a few PTs but never an ATC reach out to me in the 5+ years I’ve been writing. Think it’s generally a tough path economically b/c of educational requirements leading many to student debt followed by above average but certainly not huge salary. Appreciate you taking a few minutes to leave a comment.

      Best,
      Chris