Back and Neck Pain: Sydney CBD worker posture advice from our Physio

Posture and the workstation

 

Being a Physiotherapist in the Sydney CBD the most frequent injury I see is posture related neck and upper back pain. The typical office workers I encounter tend to be chained to the desk for 8 hours plus each day for a minimum of 5 days a week if they are lucky.

As humans I believe we are designed to roam the land in search of food and water. This requires us to be in an erect position and even into occasional amounts of extension as we look up to the sky. However the typical posture we adapt at a desk places our spine into large amounts of flexion over large amounts of time. Eventually this prolonged position leads to dysfunction of the neck and back.

Postural Problems? Our Sydney Physios can help!

Postural Problems? Our Sydney Physios can help!

The evolution of technology becoming smaller has also placed further strain on our spines as the keyboard and screen become closer and closer together.

As our head (8-10kg) moves further into flexion the amount of load through the spine increases exponentially. This posture is commonly seen when travelling on public transport and observing surrounding passengers.

Are your gadgets damaging your posture?

Are your gadgets damaging your posture?

Another workstation evolution which does not help our posture is the ‘Hot Desk’. For those unfamiliar with this arrangement, it is where office space has unallocated desks for staff so that they can move about freely and sit wherever they may choose. This sounds good in theory, however because as humans we are all different shapes and sizes it means that we cannot optimise the workstation to suit our needs and will most likely be sitting in a sub-optimal position.

Another trend which seems to be occurring amongst Sydney city offices is the, ‘standing desk’. This position is a good idea, as it can be useful to change positions through the day and is a good break from being in a sitting position for extended periods of time. However again it will only be useful if the head is not leaning in front of the shoulders.

Are you aware of how your posture is affected?

Are you aware of how your posture is affected?

 

The diagram below this paragraph gives a good example of the optimal way to setup an office workstation to ensure correct postural alignment is maintained.

Another way to prevent spinal pain in the office setting is to break up the day with two of my favourite exercises.

Correct Posture for Sydney CBD workers

Correct Posture for Sydney CBD workers

The first is designed to strengthening the muscles in the back which will improve sitting posture. It involves lying face down and lifting both elbows and feet from the floor. A 30 second hold is maintained and should be repeated 3-4 times. The muscles should be felt to work between the shoulder blades in this exercise.

The second exercise is a stretch and is designed to stretch the front of the chest to allow you to bring the shoulders into a good position whilst sitting at your desk. This can be done in a doorway or in the corner of the room. The stretch should be felt through the front of the shoulder and would be held for 30 seconds and repeated 3-4 times.

Our expert advice will help your back to be strong and functional

Our expert advice will help your back to be strong and functional

Don't forget - an open chest is key to a healthy posture

Don’t forget – an open chest is key to a healthy posture

The final tip I recommend for prevention of spinal pain, is simply to start moving more outside of work. Take up a hobby or walk more frequently. The safest and most effective activities I can recommend would be Yoga, Pilates and swimming which are all great low impact sports which will improve posture and overall well being. Invest some time into your body and you will feel much better for it!

If you need any more advice on the best way to adapt your work space, or find the right exercise for you – I am happy to help any time. Please call 9267 3775 to book a consultation.