Working in an office

Posture Tips for the Office or Working From Home

Everything we do every day–sitting in traffic in our cars, sitting at our desks at work, and scrolling through social media on our phones-can cause major issues for our overall health and well-being.

Our bodies have not been able to adapt to the postural stresses we place on them because we were designed to move rather than to be in static positions for long periods of time. The World Health Organization classifies physical inactivity as “one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide."

Even people who work out every day are still considered “sedentary” if they spend the remainder of their time sitting. Being sedentary increases the risk for a variety of health issues, like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, in addition to orthopedic problems like decreased tissue and bone quality, poor joint health, tight muscles and muscle breakdown. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain, back pain, knee pain, as well as breathing problems and headaches.


What "Bad" Posture Looks Like

No one is able to maintain perfect posture 100% of the time. The postural muscles that surround the spine and shoulders are made to work at a low level of effort all the while we are upright. These muscles are easily over-worked when we assume poor postures because they get stretched and therefore are unable to work as efficiently. The most common example of postures that over-tax our muscles is working at a computer that is too low for our eye level, such as a laptop. This causes increased stress on the lower back, upper back, and neck and can actually lead to changes in the joints of the spine and lost range of motion, stiffness and pain, including headaches.


Benefits of Posture and Mobility Exercises

The spine has several different kinds of support to help keep us upright. The postural muscles are the first line of defense, but these muscles can weaken over time. We then depend on the ligaments that connect our vertebrae together to keep up sitting in an upright posture, but these too can get slowly stretched out and weakened over time from poor posture. Too much sitting can also decrease the overall health and mobility of our joints. All of these effects of poor posture are preventable and most of these effects can be reversed or prevented with a daily mobility program and by alternating between sitting and standing.


So, What Can You Do to Help Your Body?

Following a daily mobility routine is an effective way to prevent the effects of static postures. The majority of the following exercises can be easily performed at a desk or at home.


Chin Tucks

Sitting in a chair, tuck your chin straight back.

Upper Back Extensions

Sitting in a chair, support your lower neck with your hands and extend your upper back as much as you can.

Press Ups (Cobras)

Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and push yourself up, letting your back relax.

Foam Roller Chest Openers
Lie on a foam roller and let your arms relax in a "T" shape.

Try to limit sitting to 30 minutes at a time. For every 30 minutes you spend sitting, spend 2 minutes standing or walking around. This will give your body a break, give your muscles a chance to move and give you an energy boost! Use a lumbar support roll whenever seated. Perform the suggested daily mobility exercises 1-2 times per day. Strengthening the body’s postural support muscles can also be very helpful for helping you maintain better postural health. Check out our YouTube channel for helpful tips on how to optimize your desk setup.

Click here to schedule a visit with a PT. We can develop an individualized strength and mobility plan to keep you healthy and moving well.

rise physical therapy
Written by Alyssa Lindau, PT, DPT
Fayetteville, AR


Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash