Workplace Health and Safety – Shoulder Pain Prevention


Working at your computer might not seem like such a demanding task, but it can contribute towards the development of shoulder pain and discomfort. Modern lifestyles are increasingly sedentary, and the average office worker will spend around 5 hours, 41 minutes at their desk each day. Office workers and students alike are at significant risk of developing shoulder pain, but by adopting a few simple preventative measures you can avoid this.

The Modern Workplace and Shoulder Pain

Think of pain and the first thing that comes to mind might be an injury sustained during physical exertion, whether it be on the sports field or whilst carrying heavy materials around a construction site. However, even those who work at a desk can experience pain due to poor posture. Shoulder pain is a common complaint of office workers, and it’s usually caused by prolonged, repetitive or unnatural movements which place significant stress on the muscles and tendons found within the upper body.

Whether you use a traditional desk or standing desk, practicing good ergonomics is key to avoiding shoulder pain.

Shoulder Pain Prevention in the Office

  1. Natural Position is Best

When working at your desk, you should always feel comfortable and relaxed. Your desk should never be higher than your elbows, as this will cause you to take on a tense and unnatural position characterised by shrugged shoulders. Over time, this will lead to neck and shoulder pain.

  1. Pay Attention to Posture

Working at a desk for hours on end can become tiresome, and many people tend to slump into their chairs as the day wears on. If you want to avoid pain, it is important to maintain awareness of your body posture. Ideally, you should be seated:

  • With feet flat on the floor. You may also consider using an ergonomic footrest.
  • With sufficient lumbar support against the small of your back
  • Elbows comfortably resting on the armrests or as close to your body as possible.
  • Forearms, wrists and hands relaxed and extended straight
  • With relaxed shoulders

If you work at a standing desk or are on your feet all day, try to maintain an upright position and avoid slouching. You should also consider your choice of footwear, as high heels do no favours for your posture.

  1. Vary Your Position

You should try to maintain an upright position as much as possible, but as fatigue starts to set in this can become difficult. To combat this, you might like to try standing up for a while instead of sitting down. Not only does standing burn more calories, the change of position might also improve your productivity and circulation. You could also lean back in your chair periodically or swivel around, and this will help to avoid pain caused by extended periods of sedentariness.

Height adjustable desks are ideal as you can customise the position in order to best suit your body type/height.

  1. Go for a Short Walk or Stretch Regularly

Try to get up at least once every hour for a brief walk around the office, or for a chance to do some brief stretches. This is beneficial to physical and mental health and will drastically improve comfort and productivity. Why not give the following stretches a go:

  • Chin Retractions: Start by moving your chin forward, holding for a few seconds, then pulling back slowly. The position of your chin should be straight and parallel to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Shoulder Rolls: This traditional stretch is highly effective. Stand up straight and roll your shoulders up, back and down in one single motion. Try going forward 5 times, then backwards 5 times.

 Need help with Shoulder Pain? Contact Brunswick Heads Physio Today!

At Brunswick Heads Physio we are passionate about helping office workers stay healthy and pain free. If you’ve been experiencing ongoing neck pain or struggle with maintaining good posture, please get in touch with us today. Our friendly, highly experienced physios look forward to assisting you with your pain or injury concerns.