Welcome to the Deskbound review here on Fulfillment Explorer! This will be my first review ever.
There’s a big chance you received the book introduction on March 1st sitting down. Hopefully you read this review standing up! And that is what made this book so relevant.
I’m not gonna go further trying to convince you leaving your old sitting down life behind. If the introduction in the book didn’t change your mind on the subject, then I feel like I’m out of luck, and that you already have made up your mind.
Instead I’m gonna highlight a couple of things in the book that has some connection to my own life. I’m also gonna give you some advice based on the information presented in the book and how I apply it to my own life. There will also be a little challenge to complete on your own to improve your life.
And here we go…
Gorilla motor patterns
One of the things that really spoke to me in the book was how we learn to use poor movement patterns. Most of us are not born with them, we develop them. Which also means that in most cases, you can change them back again. And that is more fascinating news then kids and animals having perfect movement techniques for me.
Poor movement patterns doesn’t only go hand in hand with pain further down the line. It also goes hand in hand with leaking out strength in all the different movements you’re doing. My friend and I are the perfect example for all of this information.
When we where growing up I was always the shorter one, and my friend was the freaking light post. I was strong and explosive for my size, but surprisingly agile. My friend on the other hand was battling with a combination of some serious growing pains, and lets say a bit of “awkward” body movements.
In more recent years I fell in love with grappling, and then later bodybuilding (Turned out to be a TERRIBLE combination, MY BAD!). I transformed from a little Tasmanian devil into a full-blown gorilla, but my mobility and movement patterns just plummet.
My friend also started lifting weights. But he had a totally different training approach, with a focus on some of the olympic lifts instead of isolation movements.
Sure, he improved. But it wasn’t really a contest yet. Not until he snowed in on the book Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Now things became really interesting!
As time went by he transformed from the first picture of the tree on page 41, into one of the braced perfect specimens on the second picture. And that wasn’t all that changed.
By correcting his movement patterns, he increased all of his lifts, while at the same time removing his pain and further risks of injuries. He has also boosted my own improvements by introducing me to the last piece of the puzzle. Starting to correct back my movements and mobility into it’s original state.
The moral of the story is that you can actually change back all those years of poor movements and posture. And that should be exciting news to anyone!
So when you enter the jungle we know as the gym today. You might just see a mighty giraffe learning a gorilla to walk like a man.
Reading for results
We are not created to read a book in one sitting. And I feel like the book itself was created with that purpose in mind.
I like books as much as anyone else (more then most actually). But there will be an information overload when trying to apply almost any self-help books techniques/information all at once. You wont be able to reap the full benefits if you don’t give yourself time to let it all sink in.
That’s why I found it much better to incorporate daily improvements into my ordinary life when I read the book. So whenever you pick up a self-help book in the future, try to evaluate how you should schedule your reading for maximum results.
And that leads us to our next topic.
Slack to get back on track
Just as presented in the book, there are advantages with taking breaks. This is a subject I’ve been struggling with a lot when studying. Studying for 16 hours a day with only meal breaks became a norm in my life for prolonged periods.
Much of the information presented in the book on the subject wasn’t new for me. But when optimizing my work space/life and general well-being, I couldn’t avoid noticing that this was probably my biggest flaw.
I knew staring into a screen for a prolonged time was bad. But I didn’t know a big part of it was because of the fixed distance. Installing software like, f.lux to control the blue light wont solve the whole problem.
Below I will present some general guidelines I try to follow myself on an ordinary day.
After every 30 min of working or sitting down, I do a couple of mobility techniques depending on where I am and what I’ve been doing. I set my mobile phone on a 30 minute timer to keep track of my scheduled breaks. I intend to switch out my phone for an alarm clock since I don’t like the distraction it presents.
If I’ve been reading sitting down in a chair or something similar in my home, I alternate in every break between the couch-stretch and the anterior neck mobilization technique.
I’ve chosen these areas because they are the areas that gets affected the most for me when I read. And also because it’s recommended to perform a technique like the couch-stretch for every hour you sit down.
I perform the mobilization techniques two minutes on each side, for a total of 4 minutes every break.
When I’ve been working standing up at the computer, I start of my breaks with walking to a window in another room, and looking out for 20 seconds instead. I then follow that up with rotating through the exercises starting on page 170.
Every break I move on the next exercise among the suggested exercises for variety reasons. I usually spend a total of 2 minutes on any exercise before I return to work.
The last types of break I do doesn’t follow a specific schedule. I incorporate them by feel when I really need them, or simply when I crave it. I’m talking about fresh air and exercise.
If I simply get stuck when I write a paper or something, I go out for a quick walk. Just to clear my head. Quiet time with my mind (no music or talking on the phone etc) is a must for me here, if I want to see any results. I can tell you that there have been several walks since I created this site!
When it comes to exercise, I’m my worst enemy. I simply love working out. Going to the gym is my favorite time of the day.
I feel so alive and refreshed during and after any work out. But the only time I skip my work outs is when I need them the most. When ever I have an upcoming exam, or something that truly forces me to concentrate and be my best self, I skip my work outs.
I do it cause my mind plays games with me, convincing me there is no time to work out. When this prevails for more than two days for me, I instantly start to decline in mental focus and general sharpness. Feeling like I’m becoming a big slug.
The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) discussed in the book, confirms the importance of exercise. Optimizing the brain, improve your learning, and focus by enabling the brain to make new connections to new materials? Seems like a win win situation for anyone who loves exercise.
There is one final aspect of taking breaks that I want to highlight before we move on. How often did you reflect over your posture when you read the book? Since you where reading a book by Kelly Starrett, I expect it to be quite often.
We often hear or think the sentence “straighten up!”. But one thing I’ve taken away from the book, and “Becoming a Supple Leopard”, is the importance of re-embracing.
If your standing up it’s easy. Just go over the bracing sequence from the start and you’re good to go. The problem comes when you’re sitting down. It’s really hard to re-embrace while sitting down. You should stand back up and re-embrace every time you feel you’ve lost your posture!
I expect a lot of people to jump over the standing up and re-embrace part. That’s why breaks comes so in handy. Every time you take a break from working sitting down, you give yourself a chance to re-embrace before you go back to work.
Every time I put down the book for the day, I caught myself letting all the information and bracing techniques fly out the window. It will take a long time for all of this information to become natural movement patterns.
I still constantly catch myself with areas of improvement in my ordinary day. I encourage you not to give up. It will be easier, it will be natural over time!
The goal is not to sit down and work with perfect form for eight hours a day. But the goal is neither to stand up and work with perfect form for eight hours a day. The goal is to steadily improve every aspect of your day until you finally incorporate correct movements throughout your whole day.
It’s not realistic to achieve this all at once. So don’t panic if you need to sit down for longer periods in the beginning. But regardless of how you approach this, and how long time you need for this to become a reality, use common sense!
Don’t do like I did and justify hard work or training with prolonged periods of poor posture, and slouching in your desk chair. I used to justify my poor sitting through out the day with that I trained really hard for three hours a day. That was just being plain stupid and using terrible logic.
Training for three hours, and being unhealthy for 21 hours a day, makes you an unhealthy individual. I just didn’t realize the impact my poor posture would have on my life. Now I know better.
The sitting workstation
There will be times when you will sit down. Not even Kelly denies it. Just keep in mind there are huge differences when it comes to how you sit down. Section 5 in the book on page 185 does a great job explaining optimized sitting.
My personal preference when it comes to sitting down is to go through the sequence on page 192, and then staying on the edge of the seat.
I also started to incorporate the one hundred year shoulders technique to my reading while I sit. Just by rotating my hands, pointing my palms up to the ceiling with my thumbs around my book, and holding them there. You feel a tremendous difference with how easy it is to keep your shoulders from rounding forwards.
I recommend you take a closer look on section 5. Ask yourself, what can be applied to the various scenarios you face in your every day life?
The standing workstation
So you have transitioned to a standing workstation, or have been working while standing up for a while now? Congratulation! You’ve come a long way. But this once again doesn’t mean that you should throw all information out of the window together with your common sense.
As it says in the book, “Don’t set yourself up for failure!”. I’ve been working standing up for quite some time now. But I didn’t organize my workstation to let me work standing up for a prolonged time.
Becoming a Supple Leopard doesn’t cover how to set up a workstation. But it does cover how you should move and brace yourself in any given situation. The fault is mine for not connecting the dots on how not to set myself up for failure.
So, where did I go wrong?
My screen was to low, forcing me to look down for several hours a day. Simply adjusting the height of my screen has saved my neck and shoulders quite some strains.
Since I moved, my floor has become a lot harder. Making it impossible to stand on without cushioning for to long. First I tried implementing indoor shoes. But quite recently I received a cushioning mat which was SO much better. Now I can stand up for a whole day without killing my feet in the process.
Last but not least I’ve made some changes on how I angle my mouse arm. Before my arm flared out from my body terribly. Eventually it gave me a lot of pain in my neck and shoulder area. I feel night and day difference since I started bringing my arm closer to my body.
I always have to take how I treat my shoulders in mind because of a stupid mistake.
Seven years ago I hurt my shoulder pretty bad when refusing to tap during grappling. My shoulder is still bothering me. And I still have a lot of dysfunction compared to the other shoulder.
From all the help I’ve received there has been nothing compared to ART. ART is short for active-realese treatment. As described on page 234, this is very similar to some of the techniques this book uses. By compressing and forcing muscles through their range of motion,
I received back a lot of my range of motion again by doing this. My shoulder causes me pain. But it’s a lot better and more tolerable now.
If you have some muscle dysfunctions from injury or something else. There’s a chance you wont be able to perform some of the mobility techniques described in this book at their full potential. At least that was the case for me.
I felt nothing while performing some exercises earlier. But by restoring some range of motion with ART, I could all of a sudden perform some techniques a lot better by myself.
If you feel like your range of motion is an obstacle from the start. Maybe you should check out if ART-treatment can help you on the way?
ART also helped me understand the cooperation of muscles better. When correcting my shoulder problems, we didn’t just focus on my shoulder muscles. By asking me to raise my hand, they saw that my muscles in my neck and lat (my latissimus dorsi) contracted like crazy.
When they incorporated work on the muscles around my shoulder, the results where stunning. And that is exactly the point Kelly is making in the book. There is a connection and cooperation between your bodies muscles.
I always pay close attention to my neck from now on. Cause I know I tend to strain my neck a lot. Which always translates into more shoulder pain.
If you feel pain in a muscle, and mobilizing it doesn’t seem to help. Try incorporate some smash and flossing on the areas around that muscle.
Last time my neck was stiff the thing that finally helped it was working on the lower part of my lat. Same thing if you are going to mobilize on a specific point one day, and you feel nothing. But right next to that point is an area that’s very sensitive and hard. Then start on that area and work on it first.
Always work on the areas you need to relieve the most pain from first. By solving the pain in these areas, you might just discover you solved some other pains you weren’t even working on.
You may also discover that by working on areas connected to your original muscle, or by doing other mobility exercises to the area first. All of a sudden, you may be able to perform a mobility exercise you weren’t able to perform in the first place. At least that is the case for me and my shoulder.
While going through mobility exercises with my friend, I complained about not finding a lot of good shoulder exercises. It turned out I just couldn’t even get to a proper set up since I lacked to much range of motion. When we started to incorporate some other exercises to increase my range of motion first, it all worked like a charm.
I don’t recommend following the two-minute rule if you’re not in a hurry. Work on an area until you don’t feel any more pain or change while mobilizing it.
The two-minute rule is good when taking breaks during a work day, and to ensure people find time in their day to mobilize. But if you want to get the most bang from your bucks, try to maximize the reward when mobilizing instead.
I don’t feel much difference when performing the couch-stretch for two minutes. But after five minutes and above I notice significant difference. I therefore notice the most impact when I perform the exercise outside of my break schedule. While watching a movie for example.
If you don’t want to try out ART, and you don’t want to mobilize in every connected area before you tackle your real problem. Well, then there is one more option. You will have to follow the information in Becoming a Supple Leopard and get yourself a Superfriend…
Deskbound vs Becoming a Supple Leopard
Deskbound is an excellent book to start with since it teaches us for instance the importance of standing up, correcting our positions, and how to prevent and relieve pain.
It’s also good because you only need a few tools, and you can perform the mobility prescriptions yourself. Even though Becoming a Supply Leopard is Kelly’s earlier work, and is perfectly readable on its own, I almost feel like it would be a perfect sequel to Deskbound.
Just like in life it’s best for you learn how to stand before you learn how to walk. But for those who wants to continue learning about perfect movements and mobility, then I highly recommend Kelly’s other work.
We wont be covering it in the near future since I want to cover some other literature first for variation purposes. At the bottom of the page you will find a link to the book and my personal favorite mobility tool cowered inside the book.
Becoming a Supple Leopard will teach you how to execute perfect movements in any situation. It also goes more in-depth with its simply huge mobility exercise register.
The exercises requires the tools mentioned in Deskbound, with an additional set of tools who will be easiest obtained by joining a gym. Some exercises also requires the help from a partner or friend. The so-called Superfriend!
If you haven’t got the mobility tools yet, you can either go to my previous post about Deskbound, and order them from there. You can also buy them from any other retailer. Or you might be the hardcore person who likes to raid golf-tracks and emptying wine bottles instead!
The last thing I want to point out before we get into the talk about the mobility prescription, is about prepping your mobility tools for comfort.
I got the most part of my mobility tools stash long ago. But if you just received your tools, or you are using the tools and noticing an itch on the skin, then you can take special pro-/cautions.
Some of my products arrived with chalk (for better grip) and what can best be described as industrial dust. If you are anything like me, your skin will be sensitive for these kind of stuff and it will start to itch. Especially if you rub your face before washing your hands afterwards.
You can avoid these itches without any real effort. Just wash your products throughly before using them the first time or after reading this.
As always, you need to use common sense. I’m not telling you to put your products in a warm bath over the night. I’m telling you to gently remove the dust/chalk.
Don’t do anything that endangers the quality of your products. Simply moisten a towel lightly and rubbing it gently over the products fixed the issue for me.
Moving for improving
As always, planing is key. If you just mindlessly start mobilizing from time to time, there is a risk you will just stop doing it all together, or not frequently enough.
The two main things you should be starting with is making mobilizing a habit, and figure out where your trouble areas are.
The chapter starting at page 250 does a great job explaining where to start, and how to follow-up on the information you will gather along the way. If you are just starting mobilizing, or in the process of conducting a new mobility program, consider revisiting it.
Below is how I tackled my problems and what I learned from completing the 14 prescriptions.
I started with doing one mobility prescription every morning in a chronological order. This will ensure that you complete a 14 day regimen and you are well on your way to imprint a habit.
You will also find so-called hot spots of pain and discomfort that you might not be aware of. I had no clue for an example that my trunk was a hot spot for me. I knew I had trouble with my lower back, but the Gut Smash simply kicked my ass!
After doing the 14 day program, I revisited page 224 and forward again, and started to incorporate some mobility work to fix the areas I needed to work on.
Since much of my pain and restriction is connected to my shoulder, I’ve been working on prescription two, three and four the most.
I start every morning of with the t-spine smash followed by some other exercises from prescription 2-4. And then I end every day with the Gut Smash. I end my day with the Gut Smash since I found it helping me fall asleep by relaxing me.
It’s important to fix hot-spots first before you move on to fixing range of motion restrictions. Otherwise you will be left with pain for a prolonged time since improving restrictions can take some time.
I like to incorporate both, but that is all up to how much time you want to invest.
Another reason I preferred doing all prescriptions first, even though I knew I would be working on my shoulder after completing it, was because it was an easy way to organize a mobility program.
Simply follow a new prescription every morning. You don’t need any experience in constructing a training program. It also made it a lot more fun in the beginning, which makes it a lot easier to adapt it as a habit.
I also found a lot of new mobility exercises I can perform while being stuck on a plane, waiting for the dinner to cook or while watching a movie for example.
Some exercises wont be reasonable to perform in some situations. By completing all 14 prescriptions, you will have a good repertoire of exercises to choose from in any given situation.
You should return to all of the prescriptions from time to time. Just to help out some matted-down tissue, or to see if you have developed some new hot spots you need to take care of.
Challenge for the readers
I challenge ever reader to a little contest with themself, where the price will be starting a better life for yourself. The challenge is bases on the information we receive in section seven, with some tweaks and added steps.
- Complete the 14 day regimen at least once by performing prescription 1-14 in a 14 day period. No weekends of!
- During these two weeks, agree to correct/reset your position EVERY time you acknowledge poor posture or movement in any form.
- If you realize you’re hunching forward while sitting, stand up, go over the bracing steps, sit back down with correct form.
- Construct your own two-part mobility program after the 14 day regimen. Combine exercises you found to be hot spots, together with another part with your areas of restrictions (starting on page 224).
- If you don’t want to go over the 10-15 minute mark, spend at least a good chunk of your time as recommended on fixing your hot-spots (I aim for at least 2/3). Otherwise I encourage you to spend the full 10-15 min on each part of the program.
- Alternate as needed between different areas during each day. But try to never neglect a true hot-spot since it needs your attention.
- The day you start your own training program, write down two separate lists of goals. One list of short term, and one list of long term goals you want to achieve by mobilizing.
- The short-term goals should be achievable during the first month preferably. The long-term goals should only be achievable if mobilizing becomes a part of your life and a habit.
- Some goals will be connected to each other as you will see, but try to list at least a couple of different ones. They could also be promises you make to yourself. To help you out, I will list a small sample of mine below.
- Avoid getting a stiff neck on a recurring basis.
- Be able to perform the Gut Smash without feeling like a heavyweight boxer is using my stomach as a punching bag.
- Never take a bath without mobilizing my toes the first month.
- Complete the self test starting on page 224 with no restrictions in any of my shoulders.
- Get rid of the pain in my right shoulder.
- Being able to sit outside in the sun reading in the lotus.
- I did indeed say you would be competing with yourself, and you will. But some people perform better if they get influenced by others, something is at stake, if they have some sort of motivational help.
- This is what the community was originally intended for. To help each other by sharing knowledge and motivate each other. I therefore encourage you to leave a comment in the comment section from now and then.
- What are the goals you want to achieve? Which are the areas you need to work on? Is there a specific mobility tool and prescription that gave you the best release? How’s your progress going? How did you find inspiration?
- If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, maybe you have a friend you could do the challenge with? Or maybe you know someone who you could inform your goals so you feel motivated to complete them?
- Track your progress! “What Gets Measured Gets Done” is the king of quotes in most aspects of life when it comes to me.
- You can track your progress in numerous way, you just need to find the method you prefer. If it’s keeping a mobility diary/journal, taking progress pictures, or just measuring the angles and distance in different movements is all up to you. But get it done people, get it measured!
I know this whole post, web-site and book is all about solving things on your own or with the help of like minded individuals. But if you have a serious condition or injury, do as Kelly says, DONT MESS ARROUND!
If you feel like you are doing more damage to yourself, you probably are. Get a professional to examine you! I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be. I’m just a person who likes to learn and fix things if I can.
Im also aware that some people might have some sort of condition that makes some information or mobility prescription impossible to follow or perform.
In these cases the only advice I can give you is that it’s up to you to try and work around it. You might not be able to perform everything, but can you take away some information you can incorporate in your day?
Or can you figure out a way to tweak the information or mobility exercises to fit your needs?
When it comes to reading the book itself, I simply loved it for several reasons. It was easy to read, and it was also so well structured you could actually read it in a numerous different ways.
Learning the basics then conducting daily prescriptions, while you continued reading the rest chapters was one of the alternatives. This allowed you to get active while finishing the book.
It had simple self tests and plans for action. The vast number of pictures, and their sequence, also made it easy to follow along in every exercise. Reading books describing exercises with only words is often a terrible experience.
Becoming a Supple Leopard is all about movement, and Deskbound teaches us how to set up our work station properly, and rejecting the sitting world.
If there is one subject I feel Kelly has graced on but that I would like to receive a deeper explanation on, then it would be how you set up your “sleeping-station”.
After all, most people spend eight hours of their day sleeping. If you are like me, you often feel worse after you wake up. But that’s a combination of multiple factors we will try to fix in the future to come.
With that I leave you to read well, read often, and have a Happy Exploring!
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