Posture at Work and Pain

Often, people suffer from pain while they are working, particularly those who work at a desk all day. This can range from neck pain and headaches to low back pain to cramping hamstrings. Posture plays a vital role in all of these areas of the body. Poor posture will tighten certain muscles, loosen others and cause nerves to over fire, causing pain. If you have pain, look for these signs:

  1. Are your shoulders rounding forward? This is usually a weakness in the external rotators of the shoulder and tightness through the chest. By strengthening the rotator cuff your shoulders will pull back more naturally. You can stretch the chest in a doorway by placing your arms at 90 degree angles and leaning the weight forward. Take a deep breath and allow the stretch to deepen. This stretch should be performed as soon as you get to work. It will help to keep your open for the rest of the day.
  2. Are you tensed in the neck talking on the phone or do you reach your head forward looking at a computer screen? Every so often take a deep breath and sigh out the mouth. This will help calm the mind and relax your body. Also, perform cervical spine stretches while sitting.
    • While looking forward drop the ear towards the shoulder. Take a few deep breaths to deepen the stretch. Perform 3 times on each side
    • Drop the head down, pointing your nose towards one of your armpits. Again, take a few deep breaths. You will feel this one more behind your ears.
    • Turn and rotate the head as if you were trying to look over your shoulder. With each breath, try to look a little bit further.
  3. Do you get back spasms while seated? You may be flattening your back against your chair, giving it an unnatural curve. When this curve occurs, the lower vertebrae take on more weight than they were designed for. To help take the strain off the vertebrae, different muscles will begin to over fire, causing pain. While sitting, reach the crown of your head up and maintain this position. Sitting on a Swiss Ball helps with this. Since no back support is provided the body is required to be in the correct posture.
  4. Do your legs or knees hurt while sitting? You may be sitting too long. While in a seated position the hamstrings are slightly contracted and the quadriceps are slightly stretched. This position can be taxing on the muscles if maintained over an extended time period. While sitting, stretch one leg out straight, placing the heel on the ground. Keeping the spine straight, lean forward and feel the stretch up the back of the leg. Also, try to stand up from your seat every so often to get the blood to flow back to your legs. Even just sitting down and standing up a few times will help loosen up your legs and back.

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