01 May Top 4 ProBar Mobility Moves to Alleviate Zoom-itis
By Philippe Til, Probar Inventor
It’s no secret we’ve been suffering from desktop posture for ages before having to shelter in place, and for many, the demands of screen time have only increased and thus exacerbated any existing forward-hunched shoulder stiffness.
I created the ProBar for a variety of reasons, the main reason being what’s the simplest way to restore balance and alignment to the most common postural issues we face.
The simplicity of the ProBar’s concept and design requires no advanced understanding of biomechanics. What I wanted for the everyday person is a light switch effect: flip the switch, the light comes on.
Once you understand the basic concepts, you can intuitively modify how you perform the exercise to add challenges to any given exercise. I will provide some tips after each exercise description, but for now, let’s focus on the basics and give you the minimum effective dose that will yield the greatest return on your investment in the ProBar!
Our first 2 moves will require only a single, short, unweighted ProBar. You can even stay at your desk and take breaks from your typing or Zoom-ing as needed. Don’t worry about how many sets or repetitions, focus on how you feel and how the exercise makes you feel. If you feel a burn, then a sense of freedom of movement, expansion of range of motion and lightness, you hit the jackpot.
EXERCISE #1: Vertical Press (aka Lat Press or Overhead Press)
Step 1: set up a baseline by performing a few presses from about chest level to full arm lockout overhead, or as much as your joints will allow, keeping the bar “locked” or inactive.
Step 2: Twist & Pull, and slowly press the bar overhead and back down to chest level. Make sure to keep the bar open or “activated”. Repeat for as many reps as you can maintain good form and when the “burn” tells you to stop. It’s not about pushing hard, but about feeling good!
- You can perform this move sitting at your desk or standing to get a little extra blood flow through the body. You can also do it tall kneeling (on your knees, but straight from knees to shoulders). With that variation, keep you buttocks squeezed which will also further help in opening up your hips.
- You can also hold the bar opened isometrically, a.k.a. without moving, at chest level, for as long as you can (start with 10 seconds and see if you can build up to a minute). That simple action allows your upper back muscles to activate and your chest muscles to release. The blood flow to the upper back will also help those tight muscles relax from their desk stiffness. Shake your head, shrug your shoulders, enjoy feeling more freedom of movement.
EXERCISE #2: Shoulder Extension (Straight Arm Raise Behind the Back).
Step 1: Hold the bar behind your back, arms straight and locked. Raise your arms a few times away from your buttocks/low back with the bar still in locked position to make sure you have no pain in your shoulders. If you do, proceed with caution, consult a doctor or medical professional as you may suffer from impingement.
Note: the exercise performed with the ProBar activated may actually relieve some of that pain through “reciprocal inhibition” as it is commonly a corrective exercise used by the physical therapists we consulted, but it is not something we can diagnose here.
Step 2: Open the ProBar and perform as many repetitions as needed by raising the bar up and behind you. Pay attention to not bring your shoulders forward. The point is not to go “as high as possible”, but only as high as you can maintain good form with your shoulders retracted.
- Hold the bar behind you with an underhand grip, a.k.a. palms facing forward, or thumbs facing outward.
- Close the ProBar when your arms are away from your body to avoid pinching.
EXERCISE #3: Switch Long ProBar Configuration for the Triple Stretch.
Step 1: Stand with your feet staggered, back leg straight and locked, front leg bent. Open the ProBar and bring it up and slightly behind your shoulders.
Step 2: Keep your elbows locked and push the bar upwards and backwards at the same time. This will activate your back muscles and stretch your chest and shoulder muscles. As you “pulse” backwards with your arm, squeeze the back leg’s butt cheek and bend the front leg a bit. This will also open up and stretch the back leg’s hip.
Step 3: After a few reps or about 30-60 seconds of hold time, switch legs and repeat so you stretch both hips.
EXERCISE #4: Front Lever Squat
Sitting is not good for obvious reasons when done for extended periods of time. You need blood flow to your lower body as well. Many in our Western society have trouble squatting deeply. Compound joint stiffness, knee pain for a variety of individual reasons, and you have yourself a dysfunctional lower body. Yet, locomotion with our feet is our main mode of transportation.
The front lever squat is a move that allows you to restore that range of motion, gradually and in some case rapidly (some are able to go from above parallel squat all the way to “butt to ground”!). For this, we use the Dual Weighted Configuration, i.e. 2 short ProBars loaded with the weight slugs inside.
Step 1: Hold the short ProBars by the unweighted end, arms along the sides of your body.
Step 2: Begin squatting down and SIMULTANEOUSLY begin raising the ProBars up. The weights being at the opposite end of your grip will give you the counterbalance required to be able to squat deeper. Kinda like holding on to something (someone’s hands, railing, a TRX) but without the need to anchor anything.
Step 3: Reverse the movement until you are upright again with arms at your side. Repeat as needed.
- Check your squatting ability prior to doing the move with the ProBar to assess your limitations, but also to feel amazing once you see how much deeper you can squat with the ProBars!
- Choose a stance that’s comfortable for you, and try to go deeper gradually as you build confidence.
- For an added challenge, narrow your stance until your knees and ankles are in contact, and try to sit longer at the bottom.