Workplace Health and Safety – Shoulder Pain Prevention


The Modern Workplace and Shoulder Pain

People often associate shoulder pain with a sporting injury or lifting heavy objects, whether that be at work or at home. However, attention must be paid to the more subtle causes of pain, such as the combination of being sedentary and sustaining poor posture as these positions may place increased stress on the body.

Working at your computer might not seem like such a demanding task, but it may contribute towards the development of shoulder pain and discomfort. Modern lifestyles are less and less active, with the average Australian spending 8-10 hours per day being sedentary. Office workers and students alike may be more prone to developing shoulder pain, but by adopting these few simple measures, this can be reduced.

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.

2. 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.

3. Vary Your Position

Don’t stay in one place for too long. If you are sitting, try standing for a bit or visa versa if you are standing.  Changing your 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 being stuck in one spot for too long.

4. 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 home, 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: Stand up straight and roll your shoulders up, back and down in one single motion. Try going forward 5 times, then back 5 times.
  • Doorway stretch: Stand in an open doorway. Raise your arms out to the side at 90 degrees. Step forward until you feel a gentle stretch through the front of your chest muscles. Hold 30 seconds and repeat 3 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.