If you’re sitting at a desk all day long there is bound to be a time when you’ve noticed your shoulders are stiff or your back is tight. Many times we just overlook this and blame it on sitting for too long or our job.

However, more often than not there are things you can do at the office to promote a better posture which will decrease the load placed on your body.

1. Laptop height too low

The most common problem leading to neck issues is the screen height. When it comes to posture, there are many unconscious movement patterns that we develop as a human. These are there to help us survive in life and to react to certain stimulus.

When it comes to our head and eyes it is hard wired into our brain that the head follows where the eyes go. This is a protective mechanism to avoid injury. As an example, imagine walking on the street and tripping your foot on an uneven pavement – your first reaction will be to look down at the floor to visualise your landing which will then be followed by the head movement.

As another example, if you were to look up at the sky you would not just glance up with the eyes (unless done on purpose) but instead lift the head up with it.

It is these hardwired patterns that will affect your posture when you are sitting in front of a laptop.

Colleagues and coworkers working on a table with laptop and computers

2. Not taking enough breaks

We’ve all heard it before and we all know the importance of taking breaks but we as human beings love to soldier on sometimes to complete a task at hand or procrastinate and ignore the issue.

This becomes an issue because the longer you go without a break the more tension that can build up in your joints, ligaments and muscles. This is how knots and trigger points can potentially form. When you sit in one position for too long your muscles are constantly firing and over time they can fatigue and start causing pain.

It may be pain today but letting it build up over the course of a few years and that can develop into something much more sinister like headaches and pins and needles going down you arms.

As a recommendation you should be moving around at least every hour.

Taking a coffee break at the office desk

3. The laptop or keyboard is too far away from you

Have you ever noticed after a couple hours at your desk around midday and towards the end of the day your body starts slumping and your posture begins slouching?

We’re all creatures of comfort and it really is our bodies unconscious response to the stress you are putting it under. Naturally, if we have our laptop or keyboard too far forward in front of us we’d have to reach out further with our arms.

What this results in is your arms fighting against gravity in order to reach the laptop. The results? The muscles holding your arm up quickly fatigue and you will start aching around the shoulder blades and in the mid back region.

As you bang away on your keyboard that is too far to reach you will also notice your shoulders rounding forward – that’s your shoulder muscles overworking and over time that is a major contributor to stiff and achey shoulders.

If we let that tension build up over time that can develop into trapped nerves, headaches, numbness and tingling and even shooting pains that go down the arm.

Office desk worker with a cluttered space

4. Your chairs arm support is too high

Picture this – It’s 3pm in the afternoon and you’ve just had a large meal for lunch. You’re eagerly trying to fight off the onsetting food coma that is barging its way through to dominate your consciousness. Your shoulders are aching and a headache is starting to develop.

Was it the glorious cheese melt you had for lunch taking its toll on you? Or is your body getting too tired to function?

You’d never think it, but your arm rest can impede on your posture by blocking you from getting closer to the table. The further you are from the table the more you will have to reach out.

There are many ways to do this – some may lean forward which would place tension in the lower back. Some may crane their neck forward to get closer. Some may roll their shoulders forward.

Most of us will do a combination and the prolonged pressure on our muscles can lead to our aches and pains.

Yellow chair laptop in snow, lounge comfort

5. There’s not enough room around your feet

How much room do you have around your feet? Do you play footsies with your coworker opposite you? Is there a wall in front of your knee making you reminisce of the wonderful economy chairs on a plane? Are there cords and desktop towers that are obstructing you?

You may not think it but having no space under the table plays a big role in your posture. If you have no moving space then you will be forced to go throughout your day in a cramped position. This prolonged position will place a lot of static pressure on your muscles and joints.

When there is enough of a build up of this and your muscle finally fatigues this will can lead to issues such as sciatica, low back pain and even disc problems.

Desk space cluttered around feet causing back pain