1. Healthy Computer Habits
Is my 8-hour desk job creating my pain? Society is shifting towards a more sedentary work lifestyle, and it’s true, the majority of us shuffle off to our 8am-5pm workday knowing that we will be stationary, most likely staring at a screen for the majority of the work days. So if I am not mindful about my posture, will it create pain? That is a bit of a loaded question, and to save you hours of reading, we are briefly going to try to break it down.
It’s becoming more widely accepted that posture does not necessarily equate to pain. That being said, having someone move regularly throughout their shift and take breaks from the computer can still have positive benefits on their health and function. Greater amounts of daily total sitting time were found to have a higher risk of all-cause mortality. And moderate to vigorous physical activity seem to control for these risks. So stay active. But how do I optimize my sitting. We’ve established movement/breaks are key, and it’s not necessarily your posture, but the length of time in that position that can create issues such as:
· Shoulder impingement
· Spinal pain/stiffness
· Headaches, Jaw issues
So for the time you have to be sitting, here’s how we will optimize that position.
1. Use of a lumbar roll. Using a simple low back roll can help optimize the position of several joints, not just your low back. By supporting the natural lordosis (curvature of your low back), it helps elevate your sternum/chest, place your shoulders in an optimal position, reposition and restore the natural curvature of the neck, and helps reduce pressure on the jaw joint.
2. Try and ensure that your shoulder blades are relaxed, and that you do not have them elevated towards your ears, which may promote tightness of your upper traps, a muscle that can refer pain to both the neck and the back of the head.
3. Tuck your chin in slightly, to ensure it’s not poked out forwards. This again helps restore the natural curvature of the neck, and reduce pressure on the neck joints as well as the jaw.
4. Proper chair height is key, feet supported, thighs at 90 degrees, elbows at 90 degrees, wrists in neutral. If you find the wrists are consistently extending backwards with typing, use a little rolled towel/face cloth under the wrists to ensure a neutral position.
*PRO TIP: Try not to sit statically without moving for more than 20-30 minutes. Remember, it’s not necessarily the posture, but the length of time in that posture that can create issues. Get up and perform backward bends (photo 1) at your low back and chin tucks (photo 2) at your neck, 10 reps for 1 set each. You can call these your “resets”. They shouldn’t be painful. If there are, it may be of benefit to have an assessment to further investigate ongoing issues with a Physiotherapist. Grab a glass of water, use the photocopier, bathroom, move. Remember, no pain does not necessarily mean no problem. Prevent issues before they start. Prevention is key!
Travis Gaudet MScPT., BScKin., cGIMS., CFST-1., CAFCI
1. “#MMTTV Q&A: Posture and Pain: Are They Related?” Modern Manual Therapy Blog, Erson Religioso, www.themanualtherapist.com/2017/05/mmttv-q-posture-and-pain-are-they.html.
2. Chau, Josephine Y., et al. “Daily Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis.” PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 11, 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080000.