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Episode 85: Dr. Sebastian Gonzales Takes Over The Modern Desk Jockey

Disclaimer: This is a podcast transcript and grammar will not be ideal, but the info is valuable!

Hey, desk jockeys welcome to another episode of the modern desk jockey where we bring you everything health and wellness for the desk worker. Today I’m having Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez take over my podcast. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past where I’m fortunate enough to have access to some experts in different aspects of health and wellness and they will record an episode send me the audio, and we’ll make it a modern desk jockey podcast. Dr. Gonzalez has been a guest on one of my other podcasts and he just brought a lot of good information consistently. One of the things that I had him discuss before was the amount of content that he generates that is just amazingly educational and useful. It’s one of his unique abilities, and so I wanted to have him on and speak to you as the desk worker, and he brings a lot of information. I listen to the podcasts he recorded for you, and it’s just a ton of good information, and at the end, he’s going to give you some links and some information how you can follow him whether it’s his podcast or his blog and some of his videos. He works a lot with athletes but he also works with regular folks in his clinic and then a lot of people that are active but also sit at a desk. So if you fall into one of those categories, he’s really going to be a valuable resource for you moving forward, so I highly encourage you to listen to this episode and at the end get some of the information that he gives us, and I’ll put it in the show notes that way you can reach out and then you can start following some of his stuff.  It’s really helpful in all kinds of movement aspects of your life and if you’re a desk worker which most likely you are, or you work with desk workers you’ll soon realize that the only good posture is a moving one. Dr. Gonzalez specializes in movement of all sorts and even if you’re a desk worker that isn’t necessarily into sports or fitness, there’s a lot of things you do in your daily life that require certain movement patterns. He really breaks that down in this podcast for you so you’re going to learn a lot of information, and it’s nice to have a fresh viewpoint and ideas on what the desk workers should do. He is going to go over a handful of tips for you that are really applicable to your daily life. So without further ado, this is Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez taking over the modern desk jockey.


Everybody welcome to the modern desk jockey podcast. I am your guest host today. My name is Dr. Sebastian Gonzales; I am also the host of my podcast called The Performance Play Sports Care podcast. So, Dr. Christie was nice enough to have me as the almost like a tap takeover. So I don’t know where I’m going to lay in the middle of the other guests but hopefully enjoy the stuff that I’m going to give you in regards to how to be a better, safer more active person that is also a desk jockey.

Just a little bit about me before we start. I wanted to make sure that you realize that although I work in sports recovery as well as people who are athletic, I really tend to think that one of the missing things that we have in our modern life is that I think people have forgotten that the athletic professional is actually more prevalently  injured than a professional athlete. So I’m all for working with professional athletes, but the same time I think the athletic professional people just like you who are sitting there doing desk work all day that’s a hard job. Like I’ve sat before in seminars, and it is hard because I’m not used to sitting in a lot during the day, but I sit enough to do notes as well as write articles and do podcasts and so on. But sitting all day is a skill. So some of the stuff I’m going to go over with you today is my four tips how to become better safer desk workers.

Number one is we get to learn how to sit better. Number two is proper foot position, and this is going to the relationship to the hip. The third is going to be walking breaks, and fourth is going to be how to make the environment yours.  I don’t know the explicit nature of this podcast, or if I can be liberal with it, so I’m going to say make the environment your blink. OK. So as we go through this just know, some videos will correlate with this. So you don’t have to take everything down right now. I just want to make sure that you guys get the major points with this. So what I typically like to ask people especially on day one when they come in with some type of aches, pain and so on is that let’s break down parts of your life. OK. Where do you spend most of your time? Where do you spend and are those are those blocks of time. Are they actually pain free or not? So I tend to think people spend a lot of their time sleeping let’s say eight hours, seven or eight hours or so sitting and walking and exercise or some other people might have a different I mean maybe they break dance half the day we don’t know. So you break those in a four-part here, and I asked people what really with your condition the thing that’s bothering you. What hurts most during? Some people say sleep, people say standing up, people say walking and then sometimes they’ll get into these kind of like nowhere lands where when they say when I say sitting they say well sometimes sit here. I said Tell me more about that. So like you say when you drive, you sit at work. You sit at home. You’ve got different chairs different seats different couches. So where does it bother you the most? When does it bother you the most and they say, well mainly driving. I say great you know because the ergonomics of a car and the seat in the position of a car is much different than with being a desk? So being a desk worker perhaps then maybe we need to address that seat a little bit or get a seat or position ourselves in that seat so we can then improve the way our body is controlling the environment. I want to make sure you guys get that so as we go into the first one here learning how to sit. We’re going to be talking about not just chairs that I would prefer that are a little bit easier to navigate around, we’ll talk a little bit about driving position. There is a video of that as well. I just want to make sure you guys realize that your aches and pains typically unless are some other type of odd condition. If the mechanical nature typically you can find some type of thing which makes sense and I suggest people write these things down because when you write them down, you establish a sense of control. You have to have that control over your aches pains booboos because if not it’s very it’s very concerning, and it’s very frustrating. And I’ve had people I had a lady the other day she couldn’t lift her head she couldn’t look up into the sky without her neck hurting. And so her natural thing was to go out and try to stretch it, and I said let’s not stretch it today. Why don’t we try something else? So we tried about three different four different corrective exercises, and the last one worked. And I said well what was that there what did we do an increase in mid back rotation in that case. So that sometimes helps out with neck conditions, not all the time. So when she left, I then contacted her the next day and I said how you are feeling? She was like not good. She’s like I didn’t have the stuff to do what I was supposed to do or that you did that we did at the office and I said well with some other ways to do it you know and I can see the frustration she had with the e-mail was that because she didn’t feel like she had the control yet one thing this responded to really well was a carry. We call them farmers carries. You pick up kettle bells, you pick up objects and you walk around the room at that point actually she was able to look up overhead with next to zero pain. It was one of the best things we did with her. So when she got home she said well I don’t have kettle bells, and I said well do you have encyclopedias, do you have books you crush them right, do you have water bottles. So establishing knowing first of what helps people or what helps you what helps your body properly load these areas it makes it so your aches and pains and booboos go away is a huge thing because we easily forget pain is an emotional thing. All right. I’ve often said that with an injury that I have I try to imagine myself but I do a very subpar job at it. So oftentimes I’m too close to my own injury and I have to ask someone else for help. I’m glad I do have those friends. So by the way Dr. Christie,  thanks for having me on I think I don’t talk much about this topic very much so I think they’re be good for it to listen to so we’re going to go to the first one and I will shut my mouth with all that intro.

So the first one is learn how to seat and I do have a video on this and first note that your chair actually does have a part of it but a not an extreme part of it. And I know that me and Dr. Christie had spoke on this on my podcast he said that you have to own your chair the chair won’t do the sitting for you your body has to do the seating and I firmly believe that as well. I tend to think the firmer the contact point or the firmer the chair actually the better it is and easier it is. By the way if it has roller’s on it, It’s a little bit hard to control as well. So what I like to have people do is get the most uncomfortable Ikea chair they possibly can and by the way typically the higher the seat the better. There’s a reason why that is as long as you can keep your feet on the ground in your knees or below your hips. A lot of times this will decrease chance of your hips if they are immobile creating extra movement in the back which then affects back pain. I tend to think get a chair that you don’t sink into. You don’t want to have the chair do the sitting for you; your body has an active part in this. And here’s the steps that I like and I’ve written a diagram on this as well as I do that video like I said I tend to have people number one sit down to the chair and I watch them and if it looks like they just kind of crumble into the chair no matter what chair it is I say look I want you to do that again. I want you to do it like you have 200 pounds on your back do with that same intention and they do it, I tell them to push their hip pockets back towards the end of the chair zip the posture up and then slowly bring yourself into the chair and a lot of times we’ll do it much better. If that doesn’t work, I have them put their arms in the air and they don’t like doing this at work. But if they’re rounding their back coming down it probably will hurt if they have what we call flexion intolerance. If your back hurts with rounding forward it will hurt to round it as you said so putting the arms in there is a really easy cheat. So if you guys have that you might want to try it out. Now the next thing when you get down there is what we call it a transitional phase. So being in a seated posture is one win but also transitioning into and out of it is a whole different one and I’ll talk about how to get out of it in a second here. So once you’re down there though and I’m going to do this right now with myself to make sure that I say it right cause a lot of times is easier when you’re actually doing it.

So when you’re into the chair a lot of times people when you cue them to zip their posture up and drop their hip pockets back to the chair they’re going to have their hamstrings all over the chair and they’re going to be so deep into that chair that it’s actually really hard to get proper posture. So I have them slide out, slide out all the way to where you’re just perching on end, and your hamstrings should not be touching the chair at all. Now once you’re there, we now have usually solid foot contact some people at this point will have their knees together which is not optimal. Sometimes they go wide which is much easier on the hip anatomy which explains the next section. But one thing’s for sure I like to have him there have their feet completely glued to the ground. Like sometimes I’ll come up, and I’ll teach you to rip her knee up off the ground or their foot up off the ground. And I say to stick it down it should be stuck down like its Velcro to the ground. OK. And the reason for this is because that is our position point if you’re sitting there and you try this when you sit and you’re going to feel that you can move your body around a ton and when you do that you’re going to be pushing off with your feet so your feet have a huge connection with if your pelvis and the rest of body can do a good job of sitting period. Next part takes your hands handle the hips like you’re dancing with yourself and you’re going to have the thumbs behind fingers in front kind of in the crease of the hip. I’ve had people down there pelvis back and forth almost like they have a paint can, and they’re dumping the paint off the front or the back. Typically you’re going to find an area of comfort or like to say it’s an area that feels like the spine is not doing any work or the least work that is our set point. Now according to research it only takes 3 percent of our total effort to keep this perfect posture as we say. I want you guys to remember that. Having perfect posture is not hard. It’s 3 percent of your effort It’s harder to have poor posture,but you’re going to set yourself up for poor posture if you’re feeding or not drilled in. Now that you’re in this position right here, I want you to pick one foot up off the ground or slide the foot back on people do they put it kind of between the chair, you’re going to notice that all the stuff that we set up went away.

So foot contact is extremely important and is also really important when we’re getting up out of the chair the transitional phases is where you’re going to get up straight up and out. Or rather you’re going to be running toward the emergency exit. It doesn’t matter you still need proper foot contact or else you can’t drive up off the ground. Now I tend to think a split stance is easiest for people. So you’re going to slide one foot forward slide one foot back the back foot is going to have the toe drilled into the ground and you’re going to stand straight to the ceiling similar to a split squat if you want to do it the harder way you can do it like you’re squatting 200 pounds again shift the weight forward slightly brace at the abdominal area and drive high. By the way, if you didn’t know the 3 percent effort comes from breathing. So although I’m not going to go into breathing mechanics as well as pressure in the abdominal area breathing has a lot to do whether you can retain your posture or not. So if you notice you’re one of those people who breathe shallow and on those people that the shoulders raise a lot your shoulders always feel like they’re tight. That’s those are signs that something’s not going right down there or a lot of times if you can see someone’s ribcage in the front like the peaks and valleys we say. Those are things that need to be addressed. Now the second part of that and sitting is going to be the foot position just like squatting in a gym. People have different hip anatomy, and they also have different availability of ahip range of motion. Fact matter is if your hips do not have a ton of range of motion like some people have that pinching in the front we call femoral acid tabular impingement or FAI you might generalizing call it a pinching hip. This is a lack a range of motion on the hip which will require the hip to say hey back. Can you give me some of that? Give me some of that range motion. You know in the back like sure we got to get to the chair, don’t we? And that creates a rounding effect which then irritates a lot of people to have a grumpy back. So what I tend to do is have people go wide like their sumo wrestler,and that’s how you would have your foot position with winds seeded drill a seat in the ground. Now if you want to make it more comfortable in the hip I think about bar stools you get that thing on the bottom down there the railing in there, it’s there for a reason. So you put your feet on it, and your knees are well below your hips on that. So barstools might be the most comfortable thing for people aside from standing. Most people do better standing.

Now let’s go on to the third. By the way, for that hip one, I do have a video on that too with a colleague who helped me out through it as well. Now walking breaks I think is one of the most productive things but one of the hardest things to do for people. And here’s a reason why. Like I have a patient who comes in, and he feels great when he walks. A lot of times walking is an awesome way to get. We call it intermittent therapeutic walking. Its Dr. Stu McGill style one he tries to go an hour in every day. You’ve got to you’ve got to swing your arms to walk like you own the world. I say move like you’re late and late for an airplane, so it’s quicker pace. This patient comes in he said It feels great when I walk but I can’t I can’t do it at work. I say why not. And he’s like well the receptionist lady she doesn’t want to walk. She she’s not in shape. And I said well that probably be good for her too, wont it. And he’s like Yeah but it’s just not going to happen. So I said well how many people are in your meeting he’s about 10. He says 10 I said you can’t just get her to go like one lap around the building and then you know. So the problem with this I know what people if you’re doing a walking meeting then you’re gonna have a problem with the other people. So if you are a decision maker I can almost guarantee that if you have your people start walking, their back pain will decrease they’ll be happier at work. Sure some of them might complain about their knees, and if they do, then you could address that when it comes. But realistically walking or continual changes the movements are to continual changes of posture is good for the back. And I know a lot of times with ergonomics, were concerned with shoulders necks, backs. I don’t know as much about hips and subtle specialize in sitting injuries, but a lot of them will go away with walking. You need to get people moving movement is medicine. OK. So if you could just do that for people if you can get a walking break walk like you own the world walk quick. I know back in the 90s we call the power walking. It might not have been that cool. I mean we did it in middle school even. But it is literally one of the best things you can do for a strong majority of people. Now do people have different types of conditions that won’t enjoy walking? Yes they will. Like I said earlier there’s people tend to have blocks of things they do for time in their day. They have sleeping; standing, walking, standing posture is much different than walking you know. So walking might be aggravating somebody and if that is the case by the way if you got these people if you know these people or you are one you just need to have a really legit assessment. We see these people all the time. They’re oftentimes not very hard to suggest for and make them feel better the same day but it takes some education. You know it takes some Queuing. Queuing if you don’t know what it is this is just like how I was talking about sitting into the chair push it pockets back zipped the posture up. These are things that people just need to be able to visualize them and repeat them over and over again. We’re building software and people really getting them to do stuff so you guys would say it becomes automatic. All right. We have people oftentimes have hardware problems. Things feel like they’re broken they feel achy and so on and it’s a lot of times there’s a reason there’s a reason is because they’re not moving well in the non-moving well because their brain doesn’t know how to move that area or is not getting proper stimulus from its surroundings as a whole and the topic by the way don’t go into that. So just to recap on walking, I would suggest or what I suggest to my people do walking breaks you know break it up. You don’t need to do an hour one time but I would like you to shoot for about an hour every day and I can tell you from personal experience with my job is I am going to see patients quite a bit in the morning quite a bit in the afternoon. Sometimes it’s traveling in the middle and I see a 30 minute break. So walk down the street get to the park do a little bit of walking around the park and then come back. All right. I put a podcast on. I listen to music and it’s really nice to just get outside. You start looking at things and you just kind of decompress from everything else in life.

You know there are many different reasons why walking would be helpful to somebody and it actually helps my back condition a ton. I’ve had very extreme cases of back conditions come in and walking is I mean sitting for just the distance to drive from her work I’m thinking about one lady to drive from her work to my office is ten minutes by the time she gets out the car she gets crooked but when we get her in she can’t even walk up to five miles; and she walked almost an entire half marathon last week. And this was about two months removed from her initial entry into my office. She’s straight as an arrow in that she’s not crooked she’s basically doing therapy through walking she’s working her core. Now the reason for the arm swing walk like you own the world and be proud because it helps stiffen and train anti-rotation of the spine or the torso which is what we need and that’s what a lot of core training revolves around. So if you think that oftentimes if you’ve been recommended by your chiropractor or physical therapist or trainer to do some coursework, this is actually the best core work you can do. And you don’t have to set extra time aside for it. You’re already going to be doing it. Now, we call intermittent again because I always say when someone has an injury if you have pain with even 10 steps then you go nine. Alright. You go to the point just before and then you have to find some coping mechanism or strategy to make the pain go away. This varies from person to person I won’t get too deep into that but for the most part you start up in your capacity and you’re going to walk anyways you’re going to walk through life you’re going to get from the car to the office you’re going to sit down. You might as well want to do it really well. I mean sitting, standing, walking or things we have to do. We might as well just be really bad ass at it. That’s my interpretation of that we don’t have to put a lot of weight on it and we don’t have to be extreme that we don’t get paid out it, you know we get paid to do our job. So that doesn’t mean you can’t be extremely good at it. That’s my goal for people anyways.

Lastly number four is I always say make the environment your beep. And the reason I say this is because a lot of people who have injuries they feel like they’re a victim of their surroundings. Sure their surroundings might not be optimal but if there’s nothing you can do about them there’s nothing you can do about them. You can ask for any chair you get the stapler you know like you can get a standup desk get all the stuff. Yeah. It’s like you change in your environment which is great. But there’s other ways to change your environment too. Even with the standing desk there’s something at the very end of the desk on the other side. If you can’t reach it and you bend over you could still hurt your back right. Or, I won’t get in the shoulder stuff too much because it’s a little bit going to be more removed from the time from having this podcast. But even shoulder conditions can flare up with standing desks, it can sometimes be better at a seating desk right. So my proposal would be to you control your surroundings and I see this all the time with people who have there when they go down into like say a squat or say we’re going to get in and out of a car. I spoke with some police officers recently who say when they get into cars they kind of have to roll into it. I say you don’t have to roll into it. You just control your environment, right? Gravity is the thing pulling you through it but your muscles bodies and what you hold onto or push onto can help you control that movement all right. The movements don’t have to be erratic. You don’t fall into the car every time and you don’t have to slouch into a chair all the time. Now things around your desk I would say just stand up move and get it. And I’ve had people say like well it’s going to take longer. And I said Yeah it will. But do you feel better you know. So I think it tends to be very empowering to people. It’s going to take more steps and I’ve given examples of people at the office here where I said we’re going to go out and do some activity and they kind of plop to the ground. I take about three steps it looks like I’m lunging kneeling and I get there just as fast as they do and they say you really do do this all the time I say yeah I do. You know you can make it very easy for yourself and just learn the steps like a dance. So if you get up and you’re reaching for something on the other side of the desk doesn’t mean you can’t do it in steps as I’m sitting here I’m perched on my seat doing this podcast. I have a podcast mic right in front of me and I remember when I first started podcasting. It’s like a big crane looking thing and the thing is really forward, so I would kind of push it forward and I would be leaning, right and then I realize I just moved back to myself. I mean I think it took me 30 episodes to figure that out and then I kept leaning into the thing like you guys can hear me now I’m probably louder now than I am right now. So the distance was important to me and I kept thinking you know I got to get this sound good so I get to lean into this thing. I caught myself leaning all the time and I kept seeing myself on the video version of the podcast. I was leaning in and I was almost speaking from the side of my mouth. And then what I realized what I could do is I can just pay, I think it’s two dollars an episode, to have a software level the sound or raise it right. We can make post-production edits, so those are examples of how I’ve improved the way that I’m sitting throughout the day by controlling my environment. It can take you years to figure these things out. But honestly right now you can look at you can get a piece of paper and a pencil and write these things down and you can say these are the things that I wish would change the most about my desk or my workspace and troubleshoot that you know easier or get a desk over to make some things up why is your pencil sharpener too far away. Why is it that far? Because the plugs over there; get an extension cord. What’s another one? OK. Some people have their computer screens. They say it hurts to look to the right; I have a screen in front of me on the screen to my right. Well, shift them to the left. So you know you’re looking straight and left. Well, won’t that create some pain later? Maybe; but you’re not doing the right all the time are you going to the right hurts you, so let’s get you feeling better. Dr. Christie spoke about before to me that laptops bother people because their necks are down. Well I can choose to complain about that for months and months and feel terrible when I have to write anything that I write or I can use suggestion which he said you get a keyboard which detaches and make the monitor right get a Bluetooth keyboard and put the thing up higher. These are all examples of controlling your environment. And this podcast I’m going through it today I’m not too direct but I do believe in not enabling people to do things poorly and making them feel like it’s OK. And I believe in the tough love thing. And if I can just get you guys to realize that how you sit, how you get to the seat, how you are sitting there, and how you stand up is important as well as hip positioning or foot position on the ground taking walking breaks and making the time you’re bleep then I think it’s better than him hauling around and saying you’re just going to need stretches or massage all the time. Sure those things are merited at some point but realistically I mean I call overuse injuries I call them injuries of negligence. There are definitely cases where people have overused things but I mean I see all the time like someone comes in and they are there running and they do 20 miles a week and they say well my right knee is bothering me because I’m overusing it. I said well what about the other one. You know and then someone also walks in and they run 50 miles a week and they feel amazing. Well how are they not using it more then they we get down the route, well I had a past injury on that or I’m older maybe I’m getting older. Well if you want to use that mentality it’s very depressing to me. I know a lot of people who run faster than I do who are 30 years older. I know a lot of people that have said hey I feel better at the age of 50 than I did at 20. You know these are just the steps that they take throughout their life to make it so they can control the things they can control. You’re not going to control that you’re getting older. But there is some merit but I think it’s lower than you think its lower merit to think that age has anything to do with how you feel. Osteoarthritis oftentimes or arthritis is oftentimes not even your pain generator. And by the way did you guys know that ACL injuries with girls by the time they’re aged 25 or so they already have signs of arthritis, they are 25, are they old? by the way it only happens in only one knee. Why do you think that is? Because that’s the knee they had a past injury on. You can look this thing up the American college of Sports Recovery has a whole position on it. So how you feel is directly related to how you move your body, how you transition and how tolerant you are to your surrounding environment. If you are stronger than it and if you have a better endurance to hold the position to stack your joints to make it so your muscles and tendons don’t become quote unquote overworked then you better possibly feel better. OK. Again I don’t intend this to be extremely blunt but I want you guys since I only have your attention for 30 minutes throughout this entire podcast. I want you guys to know that for me from the bottom of my heart I think you guys can get to feeling better a strong majority of the time if you take first ownership of what you’re doing and what parts you took to make it so that you feel the way you do. Ergonomics are amazing. They are extremely helpful when they’re merited. But you cannot. I don’t have to get out. I’m better used better with analogies but a perfect cushy chair or ADA ergonomically sound chair will not make someone who feels back pain feel 100 percent better it might help a little bit but if you start using your body the way it’s intended they’ll start feeling better. Now if you guys want to reach out to me you can find me at my website I have a ton of articles on stuff that is not necessarily ergonomically related but if you’re an athletic professional or not a professional athlete you’re going to like the stuff that I write or P2 that is the number and the letter sports care that’s sports is There is a ton of articles if you think you know what the core is actually for I have a huge article on that that encompasses the entire history of the thought of what the core actually does and what it is and I’m blending them together. It is the most comprehensive one you’ll ever see or reading your life and I’m going to keep updating it. I have a bunch of stuff on shoulder conditions, neck ones, hips, low backs and so on a ton of stuff you guys can see if you’re looking for videos, I do post a video daily in 2018. I don’t know if I’ll continue past that but Dr. Christie will probably link to some of these ones I reference in the show notes. I do know the podcast as well performance place sports care podcasts or events look at my name. I bet you’ll find on iTunes so iTunes or Google Play has it now. I think you’ll get a lot of actual steps if you go onto my website. So I hope this was helpful to all you again Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez. I believe that you should leave people better than how you found them and I honestly think it’s what we leave on this earth, it’s not what we take. Okay, so I want to leave you guys with a ton of information to make you better. You don’t get paid for it obviously have a ton of free content on the site so go ahead and hit all that stuff up absorb it, like it, share it. Talk to guys later. See you.

Now that you have a better idea of how to improve your physical health while at work. Let’s take it a few steps further by subscribing to our show and visiting our website, You can find immediate tips preventative measures and the resources we mentioned earlier to continue to improve your well-being while at work. Tune in next time for more healthy solutions for the desk worker here on the modern desk jockey.