Avoiding or Overcoming Desk Job Syndrome

I was inspired to write this because I've had this conversation many times and I wanted to refine my own thoughts on it and have all my resources in one spot for easy reference. I kept this list brief and filled with only things that are immediately easy to action.

Let's start with the definition of this of this phrase I've coined.

Desk Job Syndrome

Pain, either acute, chronic or both, resulting directly from the subject working a desk job. The pain may manifest itself anywhere but is predominant in the hips, lower back and shoulders.


It may be embarrassing to think of or talk about if you're experiencing it. After all, our ancestors worked in mines, fishing, or farming and understandably their bodies reflected it. We just sit down and think, type or talk and it breaks us down. If you're reading this I implore you to not be embarrassed and start taking action. 

This is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional nor to be conclusive, but rather to share what I've done to overcome the pain of sitting down.

Practice Mobility

Mobility may be in vogue now in certain circles, but it's not all hype. Mobility is simply the ability to move freely without discomfort, and while it's very similar to stretching it's a different discipline. Mobility work has probably been the single biggest thing to help me work and live free of pain.

I'm a big fan of Joe DeFranco, and his Limber 11 and Simple 6 programs are on youtube and require a minimal amount of equipment. I make it a goal of mine to do them all the time. I'm not perfect and can go a while without doing it but I jump right back in and any pain I'm experiencing gets dealt with.

Regular exercise is not a replacement for doing mobility work if you're a serious desk jockey. You can't out-weightlift or out-cardio sitting 8 hours a day, and if you do already exercise, doing this sort of work will make that a better experience.

Limber 11

Simple 6


Practice Yoga

No need to rush out and sign up for classes or feel awkward doing something you're bad at in public. Simply look up homegirl Yoga With Adriene and follow along some beginner practices or targeted practices for what's giving you a hard time.

I'm big into yoga for an indoor sport for the winter when it's too bad out to bike, but I do bust them out  year round as I feel like it.

I'm definitely someone who finds what feels good.

Get an ergonomic assessment

Your workplace probably has insurance and will probably pay for it. After all you're no good to them if you're in pain and can't work. This can often result in getting a standing desk, new chair, or other adjustments that should make your life better.

Take Breaks

This is the #1 piece of advice I am guilty of not following. It happens all too often that I breeze on through the workday and 5pm rolls around and I am sore and grumpy and not entirely sure why. You'll feel better if you cool it and every now and then take a few minutes for yourself and get up and move around, maybe do a few static stretches or walk around the house/block.

Plan them into your day, and try to stand up and fidget at least every hour.

Exercise Regularly

It almost doesn't matter what you're doing, just do it and do it consistently. You need something to do during the week and weekends. Do it smart and don't be an idiot though - if something hurts, don't train through the pain. 

If I could, I would ride my mountain bike 7 days a week. I truly love grinding up the mountains and hitting big descents.

This is a big thing if you're a big nerd and you also use a computer for fun in your spare time. If you're sitting down all day for work then sitting down all day for fun, it will catch up to you if you don't start taking measures.

Get Massages

Again, you likely have insurance. Use it, you're paying for it anyways. I find if something is going on in my life and I'm dealing with some pain a massage can really help take care of it.

I prefer to see a sports massage therapist who will focus more on really working the muscles more than a relaxing affair. I would describe most massages I get as an ordeal that I get through, rather than something relaxing I experience.

Go for walks

Even if you're going to exercise some other way that day, squeeze in a walk. Doubly important to squeeze in a walk if you're not going to do anything else that day. 

I find I feel much better walking at least a few kilometres after sitting down a bunch.

Nordic Cycles

I love Nordic Spas and the hot cold cycle, I always feel like a million bucks after a day going between sauna/steam room/hot tub/cold plunge.

This is probably the most indulgent thing I do and it's a very rare treat, but it's all part of looking after the body.


If you're reading this it's probably because I sent it you directly and I give a shit about your well being, and I hope you find this helpful.





This article was updated on September 21, 2020

Liam Wadman