Could your ‘desk posture’ be contributing to your lower back pain, neck pain or headaches?

May 20, 2019

Category: Chiropractor Northcote

Are you stuck behind a desk while slugging away at work all day long – five days a week?

If this sounds like you, there is a likely chance you might be suffering from what I like to call “desk posture”. Its typically characterized with your head projected anteriorly, your shoulders hunched forward, your hips feeling tight and your spine stooped over.

Other than the obvious physical appearance, what does this mean?

Decades ago, Vladimir Janda, a pioneer in physical medicine and rehabilitation, described this as the “Upper Cross Syndrome” (UCS) and “Lower Cross Syndrome” (LCS).

In the UCS, your upper back muscles become increasingly tense due to the constant strain of having your shoulders forward and positioned anteriorly, while your chest & shoulder region becomes shortened or tightened due to this constantly held posture.

In the LCS, your glutes have become underactive or weakened due to remaining in a sustained lengthened position. This is also often accompanied with a tight or stiff hip due to the prolonged shortening of the muscles crossing the hip joint.

While the body is amazingly robust and resilient, over time these postures can take a toll on the body. Problems may begin to arise involving the shoulder, neck, lower back, hips, knees and even the head and jaw joints.

Here are some simple strategies you can implement right now, whether at home or work to combat these changes.

1. Chest Wall Stretch

Find yourself a doorway, bend your arm out to the side forming a 90 degree angle with your shoulder and elbow. With the same foot as the bent arm, step forward to create a stretch in the front of your shoulder/chest region.

Hold for 30-40 seconds and repeat 3x per day on each side. Ensure body is relaxed. Keep breathing throughout the stretch.

2. Triple Extension Isometrics (with resistant band)

Start by standing upright in the extended position. Keeping your arms long, neck relaxed and shoulder blades down towards your back pocket. Increase the tension from the band by stepping backwards until you find a challenging yet manageable level. Keep your chin tucked in to avoid the jaw from jutting forward.

Hold for 60 seconds and perform 3-5 x per day. Keep breathing throughout.

3. Glute Hip Raise

Begin lying on your back with your feet bent up at hip-width apart. Begin by contracting your glutes first, raising your hips to the roof until a straight line is achieved from your knees, hips and shoulders. Return back to start position from there.

Perform 12-15 repetitions 3 x per day. To get more out of the exercise, count 2 seconds as you raise your hips, hold for 2 seconds at the top and lower back down over 4 seconds.

4. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Positioning your back foot up against a wall (right side). The use of something to stabilize the exercise (eg a stick) is to allow you to relax into the position without having to focus too much on balancing yourself. Place your left foot in front of you. When in a stable position, attempt to tuck your pelvis under (posteriorly tilt your pelvis) and contract your glute muscles simultaneously (on the same side as the back knee). If this isn’t enough, keep your pelvis tucked under and slowly move your hip away from the wall.

Hold the position for 30-40 seconds 3 x per day. Remain relaxed. The stretch may be uncomfortable but by no means painful.

Add these to your daily routine along with increasing your general activity and movement throughout the day.

Thanks for reading!
Dr Simone Schapke