How to Sit Correctly at Work
Not only do I treat a wide range of sports related injuries but also other injuries and problems have been sustained through work. The most common injury I see from people being at work is pain between the shoulder blades and the neck area. I always find that this is due to incorrect posture when sitting at a desk for hours on end. I have written down some pointers below that I always pass on to my patients about the best way to sit at work to prevent any problems occurring:
• Sit with your lower back and hips as far back into the chair as possible. If you’re sat on the edge of your seat you are much more likely to slouch forward from your shoulders. Most office chairs now have lower back support which is great for supporting your lower back.
• Keep the back of both shoulders against the chair. This prevents you from slouching forward and constantly stretching out the muscles between your shoulder blades.
• Your work chair should be at the correct height. This means both feet should be flat on the floor with your knees level with your hips. The height of your chair also means that your eyes should be level or just above the top of your screen or monitor. If it is any lower than that you start bending from the neck which will lead to putting much more stress on the muscles surrounding your neck.
• Try not to reach forward for anything. Objects on your desk that you use frequently e.g. mouse, pen and phone should be close so that you don’t have to reach forward and stretch the muscles in your back and shoulder. Other objects that you don’t use as often such as a stapler can be placed further away.
• It is important that you are not sitting for hours at once. I always recommend to get up every 45 minutes or so. Failure to do this will cause your back to stiffen up and the muscles in your neck, upper back and lower back to lock up and cause pain. Just by standing up for a few minutes helps to loosen everything and stretch your back out.
• If you are in an occupation where you are required to be on the phone a lot of the time then hold your phone in your hand. If you cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder so that both hands are free this causes the muscles on one side of your neck to lock up and go into a spasm and cause the muscles on the other side of your neck to be constantly overstretched.
As well as all of the above, I also recommend correct posture when at home in the evening when using new technology. With the introduction of smart phones and tablets, people are starting to slump just as much when they’re at home meaning that they are making the issue even worse. A condition called ‘Ipad neck’ now exists. This is all through to people leaning forward from their neck to look at their tablet or phone which causes a lot of stress to be placed on the bones in the neck and the surrounding muscles. I also noticed the same sort of problems arise through doing lots of driving. A lot of the time it does feel natural to slump forward from the shoulders and lean over the steering wheel which contributes towards neck and shoulder pain.
Visiting a sports therapist like myself is great to help relieve your symptoms from occupation related injury. Whether the injury is in the lower back, between the shoulder blades or in the neck. I work by using massage to loosen the tight muscles that are causing the pain and work on strengthening of other muscles and posture re-education to try and prevent the issue occurring again. I also recommend to all of my patients to take up pilates. Lots of recent research shows how great pilates is for strengthening the core muscles around your spine, increasing flexibility in those muscles and improving your posture. I have a local contact who teaches pilates who is fantastic!
So if you want to get regular massage for aches in your back or feel that your posture needs improving then get in contact today!