One of the most common conditions we treat at Elite Performance Therapy is upper back and neck pain/stiffness.
The reason? – Posture!
Whether it be sitting at a desk in front of a computer, slouching on a sofa whilst using social media, watching Netflix or playing a game, most of us spend a significant amount of time hunched in awkward positions not realising the damage and cost (!) it is creating.
Something as simple as sitting, you wouldn’t think there should be a problem but for a lot of people, sitting too much or in the wrong positions can be more aggravating to their body than any other activity they do in their life. Consider yourselves blessed if your manager opts for more ergonomically correct workstations… possibly it should be a compulsory HR requirement but so often isn’t.
Ideal Desk Positioning
This image illustrates an example of good desk positioning and how to sit when working at a computer/desk / laptop to avoid upper back and neck pain/stiffness.
Key factors to consider:
- Have an adjustable chair. Position it so that you can place your feet flat on the ground. Your hips should be bent at about a 90-100 degree angle.
- Pick a chair that supports your lower back. If you already have a chair that doesn’t, try to buy an attachable lumbar support pillow.
- Avoid chairs that rock back excessively. We have more of a tendency to lean back in them, which causes us to reach our arms forward to reach the keyboard.
- Screen Position. The top of the screen should be at about eye level, and an arm’s length distance away from you. It should be directly in front of you, not to one side. If this positioning causes you to lean forward adjust the computers font size, or get a larger screen.
- Keep shoulders relaxed. Your shoulders should be relaxed, hanging at your sides. The keyboard should be in a position close enough to you so that you do not have to extend your arms forward (or lean your body forward) to type. It should also be low enough so that you can keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees as you type, and your wrists straight without having to elevate/shrug your shoulders. If the desk is too high for this, try installing an adjustable shelf that pulls out from under the desktop.
- Avoid leaning forward. This causes the most problems with neck pain and puts your upper body way out of alignment. If too much time is spent in this position, the muscles on the front of your neck and chest become tight, your shoulders elevate, and your sub-occipital (base of the back of your skull) muscles can become tight which can lead to tension headaches.
Here at Elite Performance Therapy, we understand that upper back and neck tension comes with the territory of working long hours at a desk on a computer. As we sit for those long hours, we get tired, and then start to compensate by slouching, or leaning forward resting our elbows on the desk. When working with a client suffering from these symptoms, at Elite Performance Therapy we use a combined approach of:
- Myofascial and deep tissue techniques to release the tight muscles in the neck/upper back and chest.
- Incorporate a specific program of postural stretches to lengthen and gradually strengthen the weakened muscles.
‘’I found Isy on Facebook and have had 3 treatments so far, which are making a great improvement in my back and neck. She is professional, caring and highly skilled. If you are looking for a great therapist I would highly recommend her.’’
BY: Isy Fergusson
Fitness, Message Therapy, Physical Therapy
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