All too often I see people in the clinic complaining of stiffness and soreness in their upper back, neck and shoulders. 😥
I always ask about how their pain started, their work setup, and assess their muscles and joints (among other things). It wasn’t until I started doing workplace assessments that I realised an important piece of the puzzle was missing!
When I got to see people in their work environment something stood out…
the poor posture habits they had at their desk!
Most people don’t realise, until they’re challenged about it, that they inadvertently fall into weird and not-so wonderful positions when they’re concentrating on their work. 😳
I should know- I’m guilty too! 😬
If I’m concentrating on work (not my posture) I can find myself leaning on my left forearm while I’m using my mouse in my right hand.
How about you? What do you tend to do out of habit when you sit?
And it’s not just while we’re working…
What about while we’re driving (elbow up on the window sill anyone?)
And when we’re on our smartphone or tablet, leaning off to one side while we scroll/ text with the other (mmm, that could be me leaning on my elbow at the table)?
We all need to give ourselves a little pep-talk…
Sitting unevenly, twisted, forwards or lopsided– that’s with your weight more on one butt-cheek than the other- puts LOADS of extra strain on our bodies.
Our upper backs, necks and shoulders are usually the first to feel the effects, as one shoulder typically comes forwards more than the other.
This twists our spine and tightens the muscles at the front of our chest, shoulders and neck.
The muscles at the back of our shoulder and upper back (and part of the low back) are strained and switch off. This often leads to nagging pain and even a ‘burning’ feeling.
The best place to start is by evening up our pelvis, so that our base of support is symmetrical and centred. Do this by wiggling your butt back in the chair.
The next step is to lean back on your backrest if you have one.
Even if it’s not a fantastic chair, making use of the backrest- then coming as close to your desk/table/steering wheel as possible- helps curb your tendency to twist or lean.
Lastly try the “Active stretch” I recommend to (it’s a little unusual) help get your posture muscles switched back on and your shoulder in a good position.
You can check out the stretch (along with the other tips) in my short video below.
So, you might have guessed that your challenge this week is to catch yourself out in any weird position- and I’d love you to hit reply and let me know what it is!
Then, try the steps to ‘centre yourself’ and the slightly unusual stretch for your shoulders and upper back below.
Let’s kick those bad sitting habits together!