Are you an office worker? Do you sit down all day at a desk? Do you notice that your neck, shoulders or back are really stiff at the end of the day? Do you have back pain?
Although most of us would prefer not to, there are a large portion of us who work in an office setting. That means that we’re sedentary for a good majority of the day, and that we’re prone to getting ourselves into poor positions, such as hunching our back and shoulders forwards, putting our back, neck and shoulder in jeopardy of stiffness and injury.
If the answer to any of those initial questions is “yes”, then at Precision Physio, we’re here to help! We’ve put together some strategies to help get you into a better position and keep you moving during your day at work.
1 – Ergonomic seating position:
If you’re sitting in front of the computer all day, you should be asking yourself where your computer and keyboard is relative to you. You should have:
- The top of your computer screen at the level of your eyes
- Your keyboard just below the level of your elbows
Good ergonomic seating positioning will assist to minimise strain on your neck and upper back, and reduced wrist and forearm injuries from occurring.
If you can’t change the height of your computer screen, you might need to look at changing the height of your desk or chair. This might sound like such a simple change to make to your work environment, but if you can prevent any stiffness or soreness in the first place then you are setting yourself up for success!
2 – Place a small rolled towel behind your lower back:
Did you know that when you sit, you should have a natural “S” shaped curve of your back? Your lower back should have an inward curve, and your upper back should have an outward curve. You might notice that your back turns into a C-shaped curve because you’re hunching forwards over your computer!
To help with a more natural ‘curve’ of your spine, place a small rolled towel behind your lower back. This will help to put your lower back into that natural inward curve, causing your upper back and chest to open up and create a natural outward curve.
3 – Find ways to stand up during your day
There are so many excuses to stand up and/or move during your day at work, but if you need ideas, here are a few:
- Walk while having your next meeting or telephone conversation
- Swap seated desks for standing desks
- Walk somewhere to have lunch rather than taking it at your desk
- Stand up to read a document or listen to a voicemail
- Find a group of co-workers with similar interests to do exercise at lunch time
4 – Perform a series of short stretches/exercises at your desk
Here is a series of stretches for your back, shoulders and hips that you can do during your day at work and still remain productive. We’ve given the following stretches as an example to your right side but repeat on the left side as well, and we recommend holding each stretch for between 20-30 seconds:
- Thoracic rotation seated stretch: sitting in your office chair, twist your body to the right. Place your left hand on your right knee and place your right hand on the back of your chair (or something of the like). Use your arms to pull yourself into a rotated position, and you should feel a really nice stretch in your mid back.
- Back side muscle stretch: like your upper back, your back muscles tend to get tight if they are in the same position all the time! Sitting up nice and tall, reach your right arm up above your head. Gently lean to the left side with your body and your right arm until you feel a really nice stretch on the right side of your torso.
- Glute stretch: cross your right leg over your left leg, and push down on your right knee until you feel a stretch into your glutes. If you need an extra stretch, raise your left heel off the ground!
- Shoulder blade muscle stretch: our shoulders have a tendency to get tense and lift up when we are working, so it’s a good idea to stretch out the muscles in your shoulders too! Clasp your hands together in front of you and try to pull them as far forward as you can.
If any of these strategies and/or stretches help you to get moving during your day at work, we’d love to hear about it! Alternatively, if you’re finding that you’re experiencing niggles and stiffness during your day at work, we’re here to help you out.
Book an appointment
If you would like to come in for an assessment with our team and experience for yourself how beneficial it can be to work with a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist, you can contact us on 02 8607 4000 or request a call by completing this form.
This blog was written by Kelly Jones, Physiotherapist at Precision Physio – Concord. If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Kelly, you can contact her through the Precision Physio Concord clinic: 02 9736 3950 or book in online.