Do you have neck or shoulder pain that gets worse after a day at work? Have you thought about the way you sit at your desk could be contributing to strain building up in the body. Making sure you think about your body position throughout the day can reduce unwanted niggles and make you feel more comfortable.
While every desk space is different and every worker has individualized needs, here are a few general upper body tips to get you started!
Sitting At Your Desk Made Easier
Firstly, set up your chair and desk.
- Raise your chair so that forearms can gently rest on the desk. If your feet come off the ground, add in a step/box under your feet so they can rest flat.
- Check how much space is behind your upper back and the chair. Ideally, we want the torso to rest on the chair without feeling like you’re leaning back or slumping. Try tipping the back rest forward or use a folded towel behind the upper back and shoulders.
Aim to have 1-3 inches between your stomach and the desk so that the arms can be supported without having to reach out to the desk.
Next, move your computer.
- The screen should be directly in front of your body with the top of the screen just below eye height and directly in front of us. This means that we can keep our necks in a relatively neutral position without causing strain around the eyes.
- The keyboard is close enough for hands to easily reach while keeping elbows close to body and shoulders relaxed.
- Keep the mouse close to the keyboard and use a low profile mouse when possible.
- If you can use a separate screen and keyboard set up – even better!
- If you tend to use multiple screens or have high use documents either side of the screen try to move your whole body and chair to look at them, or use a document holder to bring them closer to the screen and avoid working with your head turned to one side.
Get a headset.
- If you spend lots of time on the phone and typing at the same time, it’s definitely worth investing in a headset. Cradling the phone between your ear and your shoulder puts extra (and avoidable) strain on the neck and shoulder.
Lastly, take a break and move!
- Set a timer for every 30/45mins to make sure you get up and move around away from your desk area. This can be as simple as going for a short walk to refill a water bottle, or doing your releases near your desk.
- Try an infraspinatus (back of shoulder) release https://www.barefootphysiotherapy.com.au/learning-centre/muscle-stretching-and-releases/#toggle-id-32 or a forearm release https://www.barefootphysiotherapy.com.au/learning-centre/muscle-stretching-and-releases/#toggle-id-31
You can check for your ideal set up by feeling the muscles before and after you make changes. Your upper traps (tops of shoulder) and neck muscles should feel soft and squishy. The body should feel like the position is easy and comfortable.
We do specific, hands on desk set ups with all relevant clients. If you want more advice please give Barefoot Physiotherapy a call!