Do you have a desk job? Are you constantly trying to shake the discomfort, tightness, tension, stiffness, and general pain in the upper back and neck area? Maybe you started having headaches? Jaw pain? If you’ve nodded your head or thought, “oh, that’s me” to any or all of these — this article could really help you.
Here are my 3 best tips for someone with a desk job:
Set a timer for every hour, on the hour to get up and MOVE! Most people with a desk job are quite sedentary for majority of the day, despite a little lunch break… maybe. The limited time outside of your desk chair can make movement and daily activity really challenging, but making movement a priority in your day, could keep your body feeling mobile and less tense or stiff. And no, it doesn’t matter what kind of movement you choose to do — walk, bike, hike, crawl, strength train, swim, row, roller blade (my personal favorite currently)… just MOVE! Your body will thank you.
Start a strength training routine, if you haven’t already… trust me on this one! Yes, I recommend strength training for just about everything, BUT think about it — your body isn’t feeling great from being confined to the same position day after day without much reprieve or change of routine or positioning. Stretching and getting up for a walk many times per day can be helpful in the short term, but how can we get long term benefits for this complaint? Strength training is a great tool for strengthening ALL muscles, including all those postural muscles. Plus, it helps your body withstand many different positions for longer periods of time (aka exactly what you’re doing sitting at a desk most of the day).
Find a way to manage your stress productively. This one surprises most people. What does stress have to do with my neck and upper back pain? It could have a lot to do with it! Stress can skew our perception of pain to make it worse during times of chronic higher stress. We call this stress induced hyperalgesia. Finding ways to keep stress levels low and controlled can help to keep pain levels more manageable, without it being heightened from other outside factors. There are many great resources to manage stress, like journaling regularly, practicing guided meditation (HeadSpace or YouTube have great free versions), speaking with a psychologist about major stressors in your life, finding time to be in nature daily, reducing caffeine intake, limiting screen-time, and taking time to do things for yourself regularly (you know, #selfcare and all that).
Adjustments and soft tissue work can also be helpful for decreasing pain and increasing range of motion, which can help with complaints associated with having a desk job also. However, there’s no quick fix to pain, as much as I’d love to say there is. Time, along with following these tips, should really help or at least get you started on some healthy habits that will improve your quality of life.
If you’re still struggling with pain, mobility issues, discomfort, and need more guidance — book an appointment with me and let’s tackle this together.