Physiotherapy can sometimes seem like a seasonal job – knee pain during running season, back pain with new year’s resolutions, and neck pain come end of financial year. Yes, you read that right, end of financial year can literally and figuratively be a pain in the neck!
So here are some top tips to help you avoid pain in the neck as you approach the new financial year.
Reduce your time sitting in the same position
How long you can tolerate sitting in one position over another varies depending on the individual. What we do recommend is moving regularly throughout the day. While this is tricky during the busy period it is important to do your best and find excuses to get out of your chair and move as often as you can. Common strategies to use include drinking lots of water, at least this way you will be up refilling a glass or commuting to the bathroom often. Printing documents sporadically rather than all at once, which means you must go and collect at regular intervals. And my favourite is to just stand up for the sake of stretching once and a while.
Look after your posture
They say your best posture is your next posture and I couldn’t agree more. As well as getting out of the chair and moving often you could also look at different ways you inhabit your work station. If you have the luxury of having a stand up desk then use it as often as possible. While it is not advised to stand all day, it is beneficial to switch between standing and sitting. Naturally we slouch less when we stand.
There is also a toggle on your chair that allows you to lean back into the chair, a mode I like to refer to as conference mode. When you recline into conference mode you are shifting your centre of mass to allow for more back support, this lets you kick back and relax a little more and is advised from time to time while you are conversing with a colleague or on a phone call. Sitting upright should be your priority while you are doing data entry tasks however.
If you become irritable sitting slouched all day
When we slouch we are essentially hanging on passive spinal structures, like ligaments, joint capsules and discs. There are many studies that highlight the increased internal disc pressures when we are sitting in a slouched position compared with sitting upright. This can be a common source of spinal pain.
Here is my top exercise for correcting a slouched sitting posture. Make yourself sit a little taller, stretch your arms out as wide as possible, imagine you are pressing 2 walls apart, and then lower your arms to your side. This should give you less rounding in the shoulders and lift your torso into the sitting position depicted on the office ergonomic poster you received in the office orientation pack. While this position is almost impossible to maintain all day, it is a nice exercise to complete on a regular basis to change your posture and avoid potentially aggravating positions.
My biggest piece of office advice this financial year is to keep moving. Avoid sitting for periods of longer than 45 minutes, keep limber, and if you have pain come in and address it early.
If you are experiencing neck pain come in and see one of our experienced Bend + Mend Physios, excellent at reducing physical pain, not so at metaphorical pain.