Perfect posture is a myth, research has proven this time and time again. Rather than concerning ourselves with a text-book position, we need to be looking at how long we are in the same posture for and what we are doing to support our body in the various tasks we ask of it throughout the day! If you sat with your pelvis to the back of the chair, spine perfectly straight, shoulders retracted, and head tall for an hour- chances are you will still feel a niggle somewhere! Our bodies are designed to MOVE, sitting in the same spot for too long naturally will cause discomfort.
What sort of issues do prolonged postures predispose us to?
In clinic, we often see patients who sit at their desk for 7-8hrs a day (or longer in many cases for students) and experience problems such as;
-Cervicogenic headaches (headaches arising from structures in the neck, head, or face)
-Back and neck pain
-Pelvic or hip pain
-Rib and diaphragm restrictions
-Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (Jaw pain)
-Tight hip or shoulder muscles
Whilst Osteopaths are brilliant at treating the above, there are many things you can do to prevent or manage these yourself before needing to see us! A good starting point is to move your WFH set up off your couch, and for all the students out there, off your bed! Neither provide good enough support for your pelvis or spine.
Give these few tips a try and let us know how you get on!
Set an alarm on your phone for every 45 mins to remind you to get up and move about. This may be a walk or run during your lunch break or a quick stretch before your next task. There are plenty of mobility, stretching, and strengthening exercises you can do at your desk so no excuses! See our attached desk-based exercises for some simple movements suitable for all.
keep a bottle of water at your desk and make sure to refill it when low (kill 2 birds with 1 stone and fill it up during your movement break!) Staying hydrated is key for cognition AND tissue health so an important priority to make a habit.
Ensure your desk set-up is as optimal as possible for you. Raise your screen height to eye level, use an ergonomically designed keyboard and mouse, use a footrest, lower the armrests of your chair to allow it to fit under your desk further so you can avoid reaching for your workspace! Some people prefer sitting on a Swiss ball instead of a chair, others prefer saddle chairs. Find what works for you!
4) SWITCH IT UP
If you do not have a sit/stand desk, use opportunities like video meetings or phone calls to stand rather than sit. Again, there are plenty of stretches and exercises you can do standing that does not need equipment or workout gear!
5) CHECK IN
Notice your jaw clenches, shoulders rise, muscles tense and breathing patterns change when you are stressed, concentrating or typing that strongly worded email? Focus on relaxing your tongue from the roof of your mouth to unclench the jaw, drop your shoulders, take deep 'belly' breaths and step away from the desk for a quick stretch out.
To help your muscles cope with the demands placed upon them we need to build up their capacity for load bearing. For example, the average weight of an adult head is 5kg so making sure to include some simple neck strengthening exercises can go a long way in reducing muscle fatigue and potential neck pain from long held postures in non-biomechanically efficient positions. This is also of use if already experiencing repetitive strain injuries, such as golfers/tennis elbow in desk-based workers, as research supports the use of loading in tendon repair. Including regular strengthening exercises is therefore a win-win situation in terms of prehab and rehab!
Have a question about any of the above? Drop us a message!