Why Sitting at Your Desk Causes Shoulder and Neck Pain

Shoulder and neck pain from desk work

Workplace ergonomics can contribute to shoulder and neck pain

Causes of shoulder and neck pain

There are a lot of causes for shoulder and neck pain, but one of the most common is workplace ergonomics. If you sit at a desk all day, you’re at high risk of pain not only in your back and neck, but your shoulders too.

Since you probably aren’t ready to quit your desk job yet, here’s one step you can take to mitigate the damage and accompanying pain: consider an adjustable standing desk. Here’s why.

If you’re like 99 percent of the desk worker universe, when you sit in front of your desk you aren’t engaging your core muscles, so you tend to slouch. When you slouch at your desk, you look like the guy in this photo:

Shoulder back and neck pain from hunching

Stability balls do not prevent slouching, which directly causes shoulder and neck pain.

Why slouching causes pain

Look at what is happening here. The shoulders are rolled forward, which means all the weight is being pulled to the front of the body. Everything on the front of the body is being shortened and tightened, and everything on the back is being overstretched. This posture is a recipe for pain, and as you can see that sitting posture ball isn’t helping one bit.

Unfortunately, people who are hunched over at their desks like this can be found at companies all over. It doesn’t matter whether you work at big companies like Microsoft in Redmond, WA (which is just up the road from our office) or at one of the tiny tech startups that dot the Seattle landscape. It’s equal opportunity pain!

Standing vs sitting at your desk

Contrary to what you may think though, switching to a standing desk is not the only solution. In fact, a standing desk can be just as bad as a sitting one. Instead, the best way to combat the strain of desk slouch is to change positions frequently throughout the day. That means if you are going to change your desk, it should be an adjustable one.

Ideally, you will install an adjustable standing desk in place of your current stationary one. But even if you can’t do that, just getting up and changing your position every hour for at least five minutes will have a very material benefit. Get a drink of water. Walk a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator. Stand at your next meeting. It all helps.

Of course, regular chiropractic visits can help with the immediate shoulder, back, and neck pain too, but taking these steps will allow you to visit less often and live more comfortably in your own body 24 hours a day.

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