Pain Management for Desk Work

Picture this, you are spending the day working hard at your desk, you finish for the day and go to stand up. All of the sudden it hits you, that dull achy feeling when your joints are stiff, and your muscles are sore. Has this ever been you? You aren’t alone.

So you may be wondering why this pain and discomfort is happening when all you are doing is sitting; sitting is a rest position right? Well not exactly. The truth is that sitting isn’t that good for you. Too much sitting can lead to numerous health problems including increased risk of heart problems, diabetes and neck and back injuries. Your body is an intricate fine-tuned machine comprised of over 650 muscles and those muscles are made to move! When sitting for too long your hip flexors begin to shorten which creates tightness in the hips and sitting with poor posture then causes the discs in between the vertebrae to compress. The lack of movement also weakens the muscles in the legs and glutes which are vital for low back support. As Far as neck and shoulder pain goes, this is a result from slouching forward for too long which puts stress on the shoulder girdle and thoracic spine.

Unfortunately in today’s world for many people there isn’t much choice in how much sitting they do. Whether it’s from working in an office, studying at a library or driving your car there isn’t much we can do about it. Or is there? Fortunately, there are lots of things you do to help ease the discomfort. Here are 6 ways you can prevent back and shoulder pain at the office.


Not all chairs are created equal. While some chairs may be beaming with style they may be lacking in functionality. Purchasing a new ergonomic desk chair can significantly ease back pain by correcting your posture and adding cushion to help ease the stress on the joints.


If your neck and shoulders are constantly hurting after a day of desk work you are probably leaning too far forward causing your upper back to slouch. This one is an easy fix, just move your monitor closer to see it better and elevate it so that when you are reading  the screen you aren’t bending your neck downward. Place your keyboard in a position that allows your shoulders to be relaxed and away from your ears.


Many studies have been done on the benefits of switching to a standing desk including reduced back pain, lower blood sugar levels and even can help elevate your mood. A Standing desk encourages movement and movement makes your blood flow which makes for a happy mind and healthy muscles. Standing helps take pressure off of the vertebral disks and discourages slouching as long as your computer and keyboard are at the right height. For optimal results make sure to wear supportive shoes and stand on a padded mat.


When sitting at a desk all day your most important ally in pain prevention is movement. Set a timer for every 30 minutes to remind you to move for at least 5-10 minutes. You can even download apps to your phone or smart watch to help you create reminders. This might be a quick stretch session at your desk, a walk around the office or even to opt in for standing while you work for 15 minutes. Just find whatever works best for you, just get the body moving and the blood flowing.


It’s easy to get stuck in the cycle of getting home from a long day’s work and go straight to the couch. It’s important that once you get off work you don’t just go straight from sitting to more sitting. Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes (2.5hrs) a week of exercise to stay healthy. Finding time for regular exercise and stretching is crucial for preventing the negative side effects of sitting at the desk all day. Find the exercise routine that fits your lifestyle, needs and fitness level. Make sure to have a well-rounded routine that includes some form of cardio, strength training and restorative movements.


The amount of research that backs the benefits of regular massage and bodywork is almost infinite. Massage, when added to a regular exercise and stretching routine can help relieve pain, restore shortened muscle tissue to its normal state and break up excess fascial tissue. Massage also assists with the moving of blood and lymph and calms the nervous system which means it boosts your immune system and relieves stress. Other beneficial bodywork modalities that work well along with massage treatments are chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture and physical therapy for more extreme injuries. Book a session and talk with your massage therapist about a custom treatment plan for your pain management needs.

By Melinda Curtin – Remedial Massage Therapist