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The Best Strategies for Reducing Desk Based Pain


Why do we so regularly ache at our desks?

Desk based pain is super common, particularly when we spend 8 hours a day, in a set position for a prolonged period of time. The fact we stay in one particular position for so long is a huge factor contributing to our aches and pains. Certain postures will also result in increased workload for particular muscles, which we will delve further into with our management strategies.

So why do static positions cause aches and pains?

First of all, we need to keep things simple. We have evolved in such a way that movement is a prerequisite for survival. The human body is used to moving!

Now, the technical reason is largely because when we are static our blood pressure is generally a little lower and our body will distribute blood flow to it’s vital organs and reduce the amount of blood flow required to the muscles in our neck, shoulders, arms and lower limbs.

As a result of this blood flow reduction, the chemical state of our tissues will change and make it slightly more acidic. This can trigger off little receptors in your body causing the potential for a dull achy type pain. Nerves also really like blood flow too! They love to have movement and be nourished via blood. This would be particularly important for conditions such as carpal runnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome.

So what should you do about this? Regularly move! Gently move the area that feels achy and sore in a regular manner.

Posture

Our posture can also cause a bias in the recruitment/work to certain muscles, which could potentially cause the sensation of pain.

For example, if we focus on the upper back and neck area we tend to see an increase in muscle activation of all the muscles at the back of the neck when we sit in a chin poked posture and this reduces when it is corrected.

In the lower back, we tend to see and increase in muscle activity if we arch the lower back (lordosis) and reduced activity if we slump. However, slumping is bad for our discs, right? Well newer research indicates that slumping may actually increase the height of the disc and may be a novel way to rehydrate them! To throw another spanner in the works, slouching dose tend to promote a chin out posture, which may potentially cause your neck to get a little achier.

 In summary, what should I do?

  • Move regularly as and when you can! Regular exercise will also help condition those achy tissues. This is by far the more important aspect of this article.
  • If you have neck pain and it feels muscular, it may be an idea to focus on a slightly better ‘neutral’ neck position. Gently tilting your pelvis forwards may correct this in itself.
  • If your lower back aches, you can slump sometimes! It is not the devil. It is however best to think of this as ‘form breaks’ and come in and out of a nice arched back to give your muscles a break and potentially aid disc health.

Information references:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28958435

https://cdn.bodyinmind.org/wp-content/uploads/Spine-2009-Claus.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1050641105000672

http://www.noigroup.com/en/Product/EPSB

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