Breaking Down Biomechanics: Bodywork You Can Do At Your Desk

With three easy videos, Wanderlust teacher Derek Cook shares some simple bodywork you can do anytime, anywhere to rejuvenate weary bods.

We’ve all been there: A yoga class that was too fast, a stretch that was too deep, a hike that was too hard. Even when we’re not pushing our bodies to the extreme, we’re often sitting still at a desk letting them atrophy, causing real damage to our musculoskeletal systems. What are we to do?

Enter: Bodywork. Specifically, bodywork that uses a body’s natural mechanics to begin to find healing. Derek Cook is a Wanderlust teacher and bodywork expert, who has made a career out of helping other people help themselves by tuning into the subtleties of biomechanics. We caught up with him at Wanderlust Squaw Valley last summer to break down some easy bodywork anyone can do, anywhere.

“We live these days in a pretty sedentary society, and a pretty sedentary environment. A lot of times we are in a position at a desk in whatever our sort of general stance is for hours at a time, and the truth is we see these days sitting as the new smoking. Your sitting desk is killing you. The truth is that it’s being still is the new smoking—it’s been a problem forever. Whether you’ve got a seated desk, or you happen to have a standing desk, or if you have some sort of lying down situation where you work it’s the act of being still and stationary that is trauma on the body. And it’s really true the body’s desperate for movement.” – Derek Cook

“Standing up is something you should be doing every 45 minutes or so. I’ve never done the math on it, but it’s a pretty standard saying in the biomechanics community. I don’t have any proof for it, so I just want to put that caveat out there, but for every 45 minutes that you are still, it takes about seven minutes to unwind that trauma. For every hour and 15 minutes that you’re still, it takes about 30 minutes to unwind that trauma. So what they say is that this trauma is exponential. That every moment you are still and not moving and stagnant, we start to grow inappropriate fibrous relationships through layers. We start to build ourselves into that shape in which used to stay. So, stand up. Move around.” – Derek Cook

“Some little movements and actions you’re going to find are shockingly hard. But working on those every day is going to give you a ton of mobility, a ton of differentiation through the layers. And over time, that will help you. Because the deal is, this is the world we live in. There are a lot of people out there—in the community I’m in, a lot of the sort of natural movement folks, which I love—want to say, well, let’s just go back out and just climb on trees and live in the rocks. Which is great, but we’ve decided to live together. And I think that’s a really nice choice. This is the world we’ve chosen to live in and we continue to participate in. So, instead of running away to a mountain and living in a cave, which is cool—do it if that’s your jam—but we can find ways to take good care of us in the lifestyle choices that we do make.” – Derek Cook