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Working from Home – The Sitting Quandary

NECK PAIN

Does the prospect of sitting in front of a computer for hours on end while confined to your home during lockdown feel like “a pain in the neck”?

Are you just spending too much time sitting?

Limiting your sitting time is always encouraged and standing desks have proved helpful in that they allow you to have a break from sitting. The real benefit however, comes with moving and standing tends to keep you moving. This changes muscle tension patterns and avoids putting spinal structures under strain.

What about your posture?

Common belief is that sitting up straight is “correct posture” and is desirable to protect the spine.

However, science does not support any hard or fast rules about sitting posture and we now know that if we can find how to vary our sitting posture, we will find comfortable and relaxed sitting habits which work for us and avoid neck muscle tension.

Trying to sit up straight can be hard work and usually results in rigid holding patterns with unnecessary muscle tension around the neck and shoulders. Our neck is designed to move, and anti-movement or bracing strategies create knots and crumples and pain.

Equally problematic is falling back into overly slumped postures. This removes the important bony support for the neck from the lower spine and gives you the feeling of your head falling off your shoulders. If habitually repeated and sustained, the neck muscles are required to work very hard to keep your head up.

Changing your neck pain can be an exciting adventure!

  • Ask yourself why your neck or shoulders are causing you pain. Are they trying to hold you up or are they just not moving enough?
  • Explore new options for how you approach your sitting day, including how you get in and out of your chair.
  • Break up your workday by moving in ways which lengthen tight muscles. You can stretch while you’re seated at your desk or standing in your office space. You might even be able to stretch while you’re participating in a conference call – the results can be enormously beneficial.

Here is a tool kit for a happy neck and upper back while sitting

 

1.  Feet and Legs

–   Your connection with the ground

  • Keep both feet securely in touch with the ground when sitting.
  • Focus on moving your legs to move up and down out of the chair. Try to avoid pushing down into your feet and pulling yourself up and back with your head and shoulders.
  • Stand up and down often (even if only for a few seconds).
  • Include a good walk or exercise session every day.

 

2.  Your pelvisSeated pelvic

–   Your connection with the chair

  • Use to create a steady base for your spine to balance on. This should help you to sit back comfortably in the chair with good support for your neck.

 

3.  Your ribcage

–   Moves and breathes

  • Spin your ribs around to the right and left keeping your knees steady. Breathe freely feeling a release of tension at the front and back of the ribcage as your lungs take in more air.

 

4.  Your neck

–   Just loves to move

  • Spin your head to the left and right allowing your chin to keep dropping back into the centre.

 

Click here to view 3 exercise videos for a happy neck

1.       Chair squat – Wake up legs

Allow both feet to sink softly onto the floor.

Tip forwards into a squatting position and stand up and squat down onto the chair.

Repeat 10 times before sitting back comfortably on the chair.

 

2.       Trunk rotation – Release upper back

Lie on your back, relax and unlock any arching or holding points.

Roll both legs and pelvis left to right keeping your knees hip width apart.

Keep your shoulders relaxed and feel the movement through all the vertebrae in your upper back.

Repeat 30 times.Work from home stretch

 

3.       Step back desk lunge – Release neck and shoulders

Stand in front of desk and drop down to rest your elbows and forearms on the desk.

Drop down and step back into a long lunge.

Relax your head and neck allowing your spine to lengthen as you release tension in the back of the shoulders.

Change legs and repeat 10 times with each leg.