Sitting Posture Pain – What Is It?

Sitting Posture Pain - What Is It?

A common working from home lockdown complaint

Sitting posture pain is one of the most common things we are seeing as a physio in Randwick during the current extended lockdown. With people working from home, the white collar working population are spending more and more time at their computers, and often with sub-optimal desk and computer set-ups. Couple this with longer work days, less gym access, no sport, and general stress, and it is no wonder we develop sitting posture pain.

What qualifies as sitting posture pain?

The exact cause of posture pain is hard to pin down in one blog post, especially pain as diffuse and insidious as posture-related pain. At our Randwick physio clinic – Movement Centre, we see a lot of work-from-home pains for posture physio. Pain in the shoulder, between the shoulder blades, the lower back, and the buttocks. These are all common sites. The pain can feel like the muscles have “knots”, are overworked, too tight, or too tense. All the pushing and pulling and stretching doesn’t seem to make much difference.

Why are you getting posture pain just from sitting?

So what is going on in there? Often what we see with posture pain is the muscles of our neck and upper back performing lots of very mild activity throughout the day. Along with this, the joints of the neck and back spend a lot of time not moving, in very fixed positions. Think back to the last time you had to sit still for a long period of time. We get sore where we are putting pressure through our buttocks, we get an ache in our shoulders. We often shift our body to unload the pressure.

These initial aches are signals from the body, prompting us to move to ensure we are getting adequate blood flow to keep the tissues in the area healthy. We are very good at protecting ourselves from damage of this nature. But what happens if we move, just enough, but no more? If say, our attention is fixed at a 24″ screen sitting in front of our face… The answer is that we probably aren’t moving enough to keep our tissues – muscles, joints, nerves – happy and healthy. They crave big movements, stretch, contraction, and change of position.

Think of posture-related pain as your body’s alarm to prompt you to move in a big and meaningful way – not just to shift in your seat to allow blood flow to continue.

Movement Centre Randwick physio tips for managing, preventing and eradicating posture pain:
  • Let’s get some posture physio basics out of the way. Your work set up should include a supportive chair with a good back rest. If you are still sitting on your dining chairs – no judgement, we are too – it is maybe time to invest in something more comfortable and adjustable. We all know computer set-up 101: we want the top of the screen at approximately eye level, and the keyboard at a height so the forearms are parallel with the floor.
  • More important than the set-up is an understanding that the aches and pains of sitting posture are generally an alarm to trigger movement. From our posture physio perspective, the ideal computer set-up is one that allows you to stand, bend, stretch, and walk every 15-30 minutes. In the age of Zoom meetings, cameras and mute buttons, we encourage our patients to be able to roam and move between (and during) calls and meetings. Work-from-home, while making the office ever-present in our lives, also means we can be more creative with our exercises than we may otherwise be. At home there is no one to judge your yoga form at the watercooler, or offer up their chiros quick-fix neck crack for your headaches.

Posture Physio exercises that we use at Randwick physio at Movement Centre:

  • We love chin tucks as a way to get the neck moving away from the head-forward computer posture.
  • Any upper body exercises are a nice break from computer work, and we love adding push-ups, rows, and band pull-aparts into the mix to get the muscles working. Don’t think that these will add to your upper neck and back tension, most upper body strength exercise will have a really nice effect on lowering the sense of tension in your posture-weary muscles, and will help lead to a decrease in the muscles sensitivity to prolonged postures.
  • Extending back over a foam roller, and gentle movement and stretch of the upper back is also lovely. Movements like “thread the needle” and “bow and arrow” stretches are a great way to add large rotational movements that are missing in our modern computer-centric lives.

There are a wide range of nerve stretches that we love using with our patients, so if you are experiencing upper neck, back or arm pain that you think is related to your work-from-home set-up – come and see our team at Movement Centre Randwick physio.

If you are experiencing posture pain or want to see a posture physio, come and see our Randwick physio team at Movement Centre. After years working in the CBD and in occupational health we have extensive experience and training in managing work-related neck pain.

Disclaimer: The Movement Centre provides this information as an educational service. The information contained on this website and in this blog is not intended to serve as or replace actual medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult their local Randwick Physio, general practitioner, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.