Prevent Pain While Sitting At Your Desk

by Nicole

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Staying in one position for any prolonged period of time is never good for the body. Even if you’ve bought the best office chair like the one I have from Amazon, it’s important to stand throughout the day.

Although I am all about saving money and frugality, quality matters. If you purchase a low quality chair, you’ll likely get low quality results. I spend money on items that matter and have value to me. As a physical therapist, I naturally believe taking care of the body is valuable and worth spending some money on. To understand more about value based spending, read my blog here.

The modern standing desk design has made it better for people to practice healthy posture habits. I love this standing desk from Amazon. Justin is 6’5 and never fits into anything normal sized but this standing desk works well for him. He has chronic back and knee pain which has been relieved in part by this standing desk. In the photos below, I’m using this standing desk, also from Amazon. Ultimately, no matter what configuration you have for your work from home set up, the best advice I can give is to move throughout the day. 

5 Tips for a Reducing Pain

When clients come to me with low back and neck pain I always ask what they do for work and then complete a postural assessment. 

Try these exercises and tips during your workday and let me know how you feel. Don’t forget to purchase your high quality desk and chair too.

1. Sit Up Straight or Stand Tall
  • When work gets busy and projects start building up the tendency is to round the spine and lean towards the computer screen
  • Set an alarm on your phone to ring every 30-40 minutes as a “postural reminder” as this will ensure bad habits don’t form
  • Over time, this rounded position can create tight and weak pec muscles, headaches, and upper neck pain
2. Complete a Chin Tuck
  • This can be tricky to learn but I like to use the analogy of making a double chin. Pull your head BACKWARDS, not down
  • Complete 10x every hour
  • Ditch the uncontrollable neck circles for this 
  • This exercise will prevent the forward head posture which you see in the second image 
3. Squeeze the Shoulder Blades Together
  • This exercise is formally referred to as a “scapular retraction”
  • This is a simple exercise that resembles a row which you could also complete to improve posture
  • Refer to my arm routine for more ideas on improving posture and upper body strength
  • Notice how that movement will bring you into a more upright position
  • I always tell my clients “shoulder blades down and back”
  • Another way to think about it is imagine there is a coin in the middle of your back and you need to bring the shoulder blades together to prevent the coin from falling
4. Relax the Shoulders
  • Often when we get stressed or overly involved in a project the shoulders tend to hike up towards the ears
  • This tendency is going to put a lot of stress on the neck and upper trap muscles
  • Try this upper trap stretch: draw your right ear down to your right shoulder (side bend) if accessible, using your right hand to apply over pressure
  • Additionally it will create a rounded back which is undesirable
  • Try the exercises above which should also help you to relax the shoulders
4. Sit all the Way Back in the Chair
  • From this position ensure that the back of your knees are not touching the chair
  • Allow for a couple inches of space between the end of the chair and the back of your knees
  • Make sure your feet touch the ground 
  • If your chair has lumbar support, activate that
  • There is a natural concavity of the cervical and lumbar spine and it is important to encourage the natural curve of your low back when you’re sitting

Take a Break for the Backs Sake

I find that more often than not, it’s the sedentary lifestyle which contributes to pain, not necessarily the chair. Set a reminder on your phone or an alarm to go off every 45 minutes to remind you to move! Stand up and do some back bends to nourish the spine. Perhaps you do 50 squats or 10 jumping jacks. If you’re in the privacy of your home office, you don’t have to feel as silly jumping around. Make this a routine.



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1 comment

Prevent Back & Knee Pain During Exercise - A Healthy Profit July 20, 2020 - 9:43 pm

[…] is an extension of the spine. Posture is SO IMPORTANT. If you haven’t read my article about seated posture and preventing pain at work, read that here. A chin tuck is really RETRACTION of the neck aka a backwards motion. Again refer […]


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