How Much Recovery Work Do Office Athletes Need?

Are you a professional office athlete? How do you know if you are? Let me explain…

A professional athlete of any sport trains his/her entire life to achieve mastery of their specific movement foundations. These athletes put forth great effort in school, training, eating, sleeping, recovering, and repeating until they finally arrive at their highest level of play. At this point they continue and increase their productive routines as their sport becomes their career and livelihood.

Why does it have to be a sport to make you an athlete?

You went to school, you studied hard, you sought after a career, and now you are doing what you’re doing on a daily basis. You wouldn’t be employed if you completely sucked at your professional responsibilities, right? You got hired, you were trained, you mentored, you shadowed, you worked through probation, and now you continue bettering yourself on a daily basis by ensuring that you accomplish all task on hand… you even try to do the whole eat and sleep thing as well (but usually too much of one and not enough of the other!).

Do you find it hard to believe that you NEED MORE recovery work than a professionally trained athlete, such as an NFL football player or Major League Baseball player?

Why would this be???  🙄 

Before I explain, I want to provide you with an excerpt written by Cal Poly Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Holder in his article titled “Mobility For Athletes: More Important Than Ever.

How many of you have ever had a significant injury? One that required a time where a joint, or joints, needed immobilization?

Remember when the cast or brace was removed that first time? For those of you who haven’t experienced this, that limb, or ankle, or hand felt almost like it doesn’t belong to you.

Stiff, sore and weak are all familiar adjectives when starting over.

Why is this? Why is an ankle so tight, and almost frozen after wearing a walking boot for three weeks?

The SAID Principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands

It all boils down to the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.

The most general way to look at the SAID principle is, everything you do in your day – lift weights, sprint, sitting, walking, laying down – are stimulus for change in your body. The nervous system has countless jobs in the grand scheme of things, with keeping you alive being the highest priority. Therefore, your body is adapting to everything your day throws at it.

Unfortunately the vast majority of us are sending the signal of sitting on our asses. The hip flexors shorten and tighten, the glutes and hamstrings become deactivated, the shoulders round foward and many muscles lose complete function due to extended periods of time holding a static position.

Sitting in front of a computer at your work desk for 8 hours, every day for a career is a perfect example. Sound familiar?


Let me put things into perspective for you…

The average NFL football player is putting in 1 resistance training session per day, 1 skills session per day, and maybe a couple of meetings per day for either playbook or other football related matters. Let’s say this schedule in minutes looks like this:

  • 1 training sessions: 75-120 minutes
  • 1 skills session: 90-150 minutes
  • 2-3 meetings: 120-310 minutes
  • Travel time: minimal due to location of facilities:: 5-30 minutes
  • Total minimum daily time: 290 minutes / 4.5 hours
  • Total extended daily time: 610 / 10 hours


Let’s Look at the average ‘professional office athlete:’

  • morning commute: 15-60 minutes (National average is 26 minutes)
  • Work day: 8-10 hours (average full time employee spends 47 hours per week in office)
  • evening commute: 15-60 minutes
  • Total minimum daily time: 510 minutes / 8.5 hours
  • Total extended daily time: 720 minutes / 10.2 hours


How much mobility work is to be done?

Obviously this is an answer needing to be assessed based off the individual needs of the specific athlete and their movement patterns and abilities (or lack of ability). However, to provide an even stronger idea; let’s cover what MOST professional athletes utilize within their weekly routine.

  • Eating: 5-7 meals per day / 10 minutes of relaxation and recover per meal = 50-70 minutes per day
  • Sleeping: 7-9 hours per night / 420-540 minutes per night
  • Flexibility/stretching/yoga: 20-60 minutes per day
  • Warming up / cooling down: 10-20 minutes / 5 sessions per week
  • Therapy/rehab/prehab/mobility/tissue repair: 60-120 minutes / 3-5 days per week
  • Meditation: 0-20 minutes per day
  • Total minimum weekly time: 3,660 minutes / 61 hours weekly
  • Total extended weekly time: 5,530 minutes / 92 hours weekly
  • Range of weekly time for actual mobility /flexibility /therapy work: 370 minutes (6 hours) TO 1,120 min (19 hours)

***This does not account for their resistance training program which is designed to counter-act any muscle imbalances, over-compensating, and/or improve strengths/weaknesses***


I quickly crunched these numbers to show to all of you how much EXTRA time these athlete are prioritizing themselves so that they may provide their bodies with some precious tough, love, and care. If they did not spend such large amounts they would see huge increases in muscle over-compensation, imbalances, chronic injuries, joint/bone/connective tissue pain/inflammation, and muscle tissue damage. They would also create an increase risk for the at all costs to be avoided over-training factor and even acute injury / illness. 

But coach, I don’t play any sports or train like these athletes do. This is way too exaggerated of an example… why can’t I just foam roll for 5 minutes when I see you?


The thing is, is that you ARE TRAINING like these athletes. It all goes back to the SAID Method, just as Coach Holder wrote about it brilliantly: “everything you do in your day – lift weights, sprint, sitting, walking, laying down – are stimulus for change in your body. The nervous system has countless jobs in the grand scheme of things, with keeping you alive being the highest priority. Therefore, your body is adapting to everything your day throws at it.”

It does not matter what you are performing. If you are on the field all day, then you must perform specific recovery methods to help aid these specific adaptations created by the body. This goes exactly the same way if you are simply sitting down behind your computer all day, you must perform specific recovery methods to help aid your body against the adaptations taken on during your 7-10 strenuous daily hours.

If you refuse to start implementing more time for yourself in our battle against postural adaptations, muscle shortening, join discomfort, and other problematic occurrences; then why are you here? Do you really think crossfitting or Olympic weightlifting for 60 minutes is going to help the problem? I can guarantee you that any style of training is only going to further derail you from feeling better, and it’s only a matter of time before your body takes over by signaling a need for discontinuation through an increase in chronic pain and/or acute injury.

It’s time to get serious and it’s time to train smarter, how are YOU going to go about doing that?



Coach Brock Daniels MS, CSCS, RKC

Next Level Training Systems – Roseville, CA




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