How much time do you spend in front of computers and other electronic gadgets like tablets and smart phones? This sedentary behaviour has detrimental effects on the posture health of young and older bodies and, has resulted in the creation of a new term ‘Desk Disease’. If left untreated, ’Desk Disease’ can have prolonged negative effects on your health and musculoskeletal system. Poor seating posture is so common and can decrease energy levels, increase stress levels and cause long term physical pain and discomfort.
At work and home, we often have unhealthy desk set ups. We sit incorrectly, our computer screens are too high or too low, we sit in poor quality chairs and our arm rests and computer mouses are the wrong height. When you peer forward to look at your computer screen, this creates excessive loading or force through your facet joints in your cervical spine and muscle tension at the base of the skull. Sequence Osteopathy’s Dr Rachel Perry says that “the subocciptal muscles at the base of the skull can become shortened with forward head carriage. Pain and stiffness can then follow. Muscle tightness through the suboccipitals can further lead to headaches, a foggy head and feelings of lethargy. Tightness through the pectoral muscles at the front of the chest causes the shoulders to rotate further forward and inward increasing the thoracic flexion.”
In clinic, Dr Perry sees patients presenting with upper neck, back, hip and shoulder pain, numbness and referred pain up to the head. Some of the other major physical issues include forward head carriage, excessively rounded upper backs (kyphosis), elongated, inactive and weak upper back muscles, shortened hamstring muscles, tight hip flexors and weak glutes. Dr Perry says: “as osteopaths, we aim to decompress the strained neck joints and improve alignment to allow for freedom of movement and optimal blood flow to the head. Patients often walk away feeling instant relief, like their head is lighter after having traction done to their occipital joint. Stretching, massage or other muscle release techniques improves the tension through the pec muscles helping to create length and open up the front of the chest.”
Sequence Osteopathy Clinic’s advice: the best thing you can do no matter what your desk set up is take regular breaks throughout the day and remind yourself to GET UP AND MOVE! Avoid prolonged periods of sitting and take stretch breaks and short walks around the home or office to get your blood flowing through your muscles. This will assist in avoiding workplace fatigue and restore your energy. Stretching also improves posture, check out our instagram (@sequenceosteo) for some simple stretches you can perform at your desk, in the office and at home.
With Osteopathic treatment, movement and stretching you can change bad posture habits into good posture and improve your overall health and wellbeing. There is a lot we can do to help you make positive changes to a sedentary lifestyle and help improve your overall health.