Amanda Tune, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist
Many people are currently still working from home. In my practice, I have seen an increase in work related postural concerns because of this. While you can’t entirely stop sitting for work, you can implement a few strategies, or as I like to call them ‘catch and correct methods’, to help minimize work related muscular tension and pain.
1: Workstation Set Up
Having the most ergonomic workstation possible is very important. If you do not have a professional chair or desk at home, using a firm chair and a regular height table is vital. Ensure your feet reach the ground, and the height of the table is so that you aren’t slouching or hiking your shoulders while working.
If you have a dual monitor set up, be sure to turn your entire body while viewing the additional monitor. People often rotate from the waist which causes one side of your spinal muscles to tighten. I am seeing this so often now that I can typically guess who is using a dual monitor system.
Make sure your monitor, or monitors, are eye level. Looking slightly up or down for an extended period of time leads to shortening of the muscles at the base of the skull. Tension in those muscles is the leading cause of headaches.
2: Desk Posture
Try to keep your pelvis as neutral as possible. What does this mean? Keep both feet planted on the ground and in front of you. As the day progresses, and people start to fatigue, that is often when they cross their legs or tuck one or both underneath them. This causes the pelvis or hip to pop up and shortens the lower back muscles on one side.
The pelvis is the central point of our body. If it is out of alignment, it can cause a ripple effect throughout both the upper and lower body.
3: Take Breaks
If you find yourself slouching or crossing your legs throughout the day, it is time to get up and move around. Walk around the block, or even just your house, for 10 minutes to get your blood circulation going. Moving the body often rejuvenates us enough to feel less fatigued and less likely to be using bad posture.
4: Self Care
Most clients usually present with neck, shoulder and lower back pain. I often suggest heat for neck and shoulders. Anything portable like a magic bag, or bean filled bag that is microwavable, can be used even while working. My suggestion is 20 minutes every other day.
Stretching out chest muscles is also important. Everything we do is in front of us, and the chest muscles get chronically tight because of it. When they get tight and start pulling the shoulders forward, they then pull you out of alignment. Always stretch both sides and hold for 30 seconds.
Lastly, the glutes (or muscles of the behind) are largely responsible for lower back and sciatic pain. They are our largest most dominate muscle group and are in very close proximity to our lower back muscles, which are often weak. My number one exercise to release glute tension is to roll out the glutes using either a tennis or lacrosse ball. YouTube has some excellent tutorials on how to do that.