Had this question asked in my occupational therapy clinic in Miami this week that I wanted to share with you. It’s a common question and I often get asked about posture.
“Hoang, I sit and work at the computer for hours at a time. Although I have an ergonomic chair for when I’m on the computer, I still seem to suffer from bad posture. What would help improve my posture at work?”
– Marie, 35
A lot of people underestimate the power of great posture and the advantages it can provide to your lifestyle.
Think of it in this way, a lot of your time is spent at work doing whatever it is that you do, but if you have bad posture throughout your day, in the long run, it can have a serious effect.
Some people can spend hours either at a desk or standing at work and all those hours of having bad posture can add up to something serious if it is not dealt with.
Tips for maintaining good posture and alleviate your shoulder and neck pain
Here’s a few ways to have better posture and ultimately, ease your shoulder and neck pains at work.
Sit up straight and adjust your chair
so that it feels comfortable and supportive. This tip might seem quite obvious but it is the first thing I’d recommend. If you have an office job then adjust your seating if you sit for a long period of time. Remember the chair’s features are there for a reason, to make you feel supported!
Change to a standing position – then standing straight really does help.
I know at times it can feel like a relief to rest your body weight on one leg whilst resting the rest of your body on a desk or worktop. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this is pretty much how not to stand. Ultimately all you are doing to your body is putting strain on particular muscles while you ‘rest’, can have an impact on your neck and shoulders. When standing, make sure your body weight is spread evenly to the front, back and sides of the feet.
Position your monitor or laptop to eye level
When working on the computer for long hours, it’s important to have the height of the screen eye level so you are not looking down. Looking down encourages more slouching. That strains your neck and shoulders even more. If it’s a laptop, you may need to prop it up to get to eye level and will need to change positions often.
Get up (if you are not already) and move!
Yes, you could finish off that one last email but I think we both know that, that one email will lead to something else. As a result, you will not only be glued to your chair all day, but will feel even more stiff, painful, and put more pressure on your neck and shoulders.
The best time to get up and move is when you start to feel your body slouch
and find it hard to keep in a comfortable position. If it’s possible, try and get up from your chair every half an hour or so and do a few stretches or walk around for a few minutes. Think of it as a water break for your body. After a few minutes you’ll come back to your desk refreshed and ready to start working.
What about using posture-friendly props?
If like Marie, you are thinking of using posture-friendly props, then great. They are easy to find and can make a big difference to your posture at work. As Marie has done, she has decided to use an ergonomic chair to help with her posture.
However, there are many other props that will help you at work. Back supports, arm supports and even a pillow can help ease neck and shoulder pain. Even positioning your computer screen/s in level to your resting eye position, will help avoid straining the neck with the head tilted forward.
So my answer to Marie is this – yes, a prop can help ease pain from poor posture, but remember to put the other tips in place too.
The solution lies not only in putting these actions in place, but also committing to these tips in the long run. It may not be a quick fix but you will be easing your pain in the long-term.
If you have already tried all types of props or stretches – and you are still struggling with neck and shoulder pains, give us a call at Hands-on Therapy Services. Request to speak with our therapist so we can get you clear on what’s wrong. Get the right help and get rid of neck and shoulder pain for good.
Written by Hoang Tran
About the author – Hoang Tran
Hoang Tran is a hand therapist in Miami, the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand and shoulder problems, because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).
The aim of her occupational therapy practice for shoulder pain in Miami is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. If you would like more information about the services call her team at 786-615-9879, visit handsots.com or schedule an appointment here. In these difficult times, we are here to help. Telehealth and online sessions are available!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.