Sitting all day can be rough. Prolonged sitting with poor posture can influence neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches, among other conditions. In the course of history, “desk jobs” are a relatively new phenomenon and humans are really not built to sit all day long, five days a week. Unfortunately, the vast majority of jobs now involve a lot of sedentary time.
Because of these issues, standing desks and treadmill desks are getting more common. Even if you don’t have access to a standing workstation, making small changes in your work day can help to ease the pain of prolonged sitting.
1. Adjust your workstation.
Your feet should be flat. It is almost impossible to sit with good posture when your legs are crossed or tucked under you.
You should be sitting on your “sit bones” under your bottom, not on your tailbone.
Your chair should help to support your low back. If helpful, you can use a small towel roll at the small of your back to help you maintain the slight curve through your lower back.
Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic with specific information on adjusting different parts of your workstation.
2. Sit tall and relax your shoulder blades away from your ears. Your neck should feel long, with your ears in line with your shoulders. Avoid slumping into a rounded back and forward head position, seen in the second picture.
3. Watch your posture while you’re using the phone. Make sure that you aren’t resting your elbow on your desk or shrugging to hold the phone between your ear and shoulder. If you are on the phone frequently during the day, consider investing in a headset to assist you in maintaining good posture.
4. Take frequent breaks! Try to get up and move around at least once an hour, whether you go grab a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or just take a short walk around the office.
5. Find some sort of reminder during the day to check and reset your posture during work or meetings. Find something that happens frequently during the day — whether it is an email popup alert, Googling something, or opening a specific application. Start getting in the habit of resetting your posture each time you do one of those things to help you minimize the time you spend slouched during the day.
Adjusting your posture is challenging, but small changes can add up to make a big difference. Tried these tips and still having pain or headaches during or after work? Give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists to help you improve your pain, posture and function.