Alexa Marie, LMT
How terrible is your desk posture?
What your work/school posture is doing to your body and ways to improve your space without investing in more furniture.
School is back in session and we’ve said goodbye to summer Fridays’. Many of you are back to a full fall schedule of desk work. Post-covid life has left many desk workers in hybrid situations or even unplanned permanent work-from-home schedules. This usually means a poor work setup at home and even a shared desk at work. Ideally, everyone should have a work set up for their unique body type and work habits.
Generic office chairs are typically not built for small frame body types, and laptops were not designed for posture but rather for portability. If you're working on a laptop right now, chances are your head is hanging forward looking down at the screen, your shoulders are rounded and elevated and your wrists are flexed. You also might be sitting on the edge of your seat, arching your lower back, and pointing your toes while gripping the chair post or the ground. Or maybe you’re sitting on your “comfy” couch slouched over your laptop. You think elevating your legs is a good alternative but without proper support, your knees are hyper-extending after hours of being straight while your spine increasingly curves over.
Let’s break down the areas being tortured the most during all this time spent working in unfriendly settings.
Glutes: The glutes are composed of three muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. There are also six deep, supporting lateral rotating muscles underneath the glutes, still part of the “butt” regardless of where you are sitting and how well you are set up. The duration of sitting will affect the glute muscle. Basically, they will fall asleep and shut down. This might not sound like much of an issue until you start to feel pain in your hips, and bending over to pick something up makes your lower back give out.
Low back: As mentioned, the glutes play a huge role in your low back health. The reason why they play such a big part is that, if the glutes aren’t pulling their weight in moving and supporting the body, other areas of the body need to pick up the slack. Also, whatever posture is causing the glutes to fall asleep is likely pulling the low back out of a healthy alignment. While slouching, your anterior of the low back aka the lower abs is slack and putting the psoas into an overstretched state. This is the recipe for vulnerability and pain.
Upper back: Rounded and elevated shoulders mean contracted, short, and tight pectoral muscles, levator scapula, and upper traps. The notorious knots placed right at the top of either shoulder, the attachment of the levator scapula, is responsible for shrugging the shoulders. The contracted chest and other anterior muscles produce an over-stretched, locked long, tightness and weakness to the opposing muscles in the upper body such as in the rhomboids, serratus anterior, and lower traps.
Neck: Lastly, the most complained area of the body, the neck, seems to absorb most of the terrible desk posture pain. The forward head, dropped chin, locked long deep neck flexors, weak longus capitis, tight suboccipitals. The weight of the head is said to increase by 10lb of weight by every inch your head falls forward from the center of your body. That is likely to cause headaches, neck pain, and a seriously limited range of motion.
So now we know all the terrible ways our body is responding to our desk habits. What should we do to make it better?
First things first, sit at a desk. Ditch the soft comfy couches and lounge chairs. Save those for the post-work chill. Next, if you're working on a laptop or tablet, get a separate monitor and or a separate keyboard. Your hands need to be closer and lower to your body while the screen needs to be in line with your eye site (measure sitting or standing at a good posture height) You can use books to raise your monitor or screen to the appropriate height or you can’t invest in a riser for your computer. There are tons of wireless and wired keyboards out there and I am positive they are cheaper than the number of massages you might need to put your sore neck back together. The last and most important tip of them all, take breaks! Get out of the chair, get away from that screen, take that meeting call on a walk, demand some down time during your day and when you do get off of work try spending a few minutes unwinding the postural patterns you put your body in.
Looking for a massage therapist to help work out the postural pain from those long hours sitting or standing at your desk? Maybe looking for some more guidance on how to manage your pain from a movement perspective? Reach out to Alexa Marie, LMT at The Crafted Hand in Hoboken, NJ.
For bookings visit TheCraftedHand.com or email email@example.com