We’ve all heard the catch phrase ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ which led to many people opting for standing desks at work, but did you realise you can stand as poorly as you can sit? (Vallance et al., 2018).
Poor posture puts additional strain on the body, causing muscle joint imbalances and can lead to headaches and fatigue (Depreli & Angin, 2018; Shariat et al., 2018). The good news is that everyone has the power to improve their posture and how they feel.
Sitting at a workstation may be your only option if you don’t have the accessibility to a standing desk. Ensuring your workstation is set up so that your screen is at eye level limits stress on your neck avoiding the need to look down or up (Keown & Tuchin, 2018). Do you know that your head weighs around three to five kilograms? (SzczygieŁ et.al, 2019). Holding your head in a sub-optimal position, can load up your cervical spine and cause extra load to muscles that attach to your upper shoulders and head (Tsang, So, Lau, Dai & Szeto, 2018). You should be holding your head in a neutral upright position (SzczygieŁ et.al, 2019). Have a look around your workstation now. Do you have equipment such as your mouse, that you need to interact with far from reach? This could be causing you to overstretch or rotate to one side to access it (Jeon, Kwon, Hwang, Jung & Weon, 2019). Can you bring it closer to you?
Office workers often have shoulders that rotate anteriorly, and they slump through their chest bone (Depreli & Angin, 2018). This causes the head to come forward, straining the upper back and shoulder muscles, putting pressure on the anterior neck and can lead to headaches (Kochur, Wilski, Goliwas, Lewandowski & Lochński, 2019). Simply by raising your chest, you can improve your posture. Think of a torch coming out of your sternum (your chest bone in-between your collar bones). Lift the torch so the light shines out in front and not down at the floor. You’ll notice an immediate difference.
The shoulder joint is a very shallow joint. If you think of a seal balancing a ball on its nose, that is how insecure your shoulder is. It can be strengthened by four key muscles that we commonly term the rotator cuff. These muscles and ligaments strengthen the joint and help maintain its integrity (Hung & Darling, 2013). Poor posture sitting can cause the front muscles of the shoulder to shorten and the posterior muscles of the shoulder to weaken (Jeon et al., 2019). The joint is pulled anteriorly which then limits the shoulders normal range of movement (Depreli & Angin, 2018; Jeon et al., 2019). You may find it hard to lift your arms up overhead when your shoulders are forward (Depreli & Angin, 2018). Commonly people report pain between their shoulder blades, but it’s often just the area that is strained when there is too much tension through the front of the shoulder.
Office workers are often sedentary during the day and flock to the gym before and after work to exercise and strengthen their body. One major issue with some gym warriors is that the train excessively the muscles that have become shortened and ‘switched on’ by poor posture at work. Think chest presses and bicep curls (Daneshmandi, Harati, & Poor, 2017). This makes their issue worse as they don’t realise how imbalanced their shoulder joints have become predisposing them to injury (Shariat et al., 2018).
Those of you who have access to a standing workstation need to know that you can stand as poorly as you can sit. Standing on one leg, bending the other and standing forward on your feet can add an extra gravitational load on your body and strain muscles (Hasegawa, Katsuhira, Oka, Fujii, & Matsudaira, 2018). Standing evenly through your feet, weightbearing with two thirds of your weight through your heels and keeping your chest lifted (torch analogy), can help you maintain a better standing position. Alternating sitting and standing can be helpful too as well as regular breaks (Southard, Rhoades, Whitehead & Walch, 2018).
At City Haven Massage Therapy, we specialise in improving posture, reducing tension in shortened muscles with Myotherapy and Remedial massage and providing strengthening exercise prescription to help you feel better at work.
You can find us at 52 Cade Way, Parkville or 733 Whitehorse Road, Mont Albert. To find out more about us and to meet our team, please visit www.cityhavenmassage.com.au.
Charlotte Keane
City Haven Massage Therapy


Daneshmandi, H., Harati, J., & Poor, S.F. (2017). Bodybuilding Links to Upper Crossed Syndrome. Polish Scientific Journals Database, 2017(5), 124-131. Retrieved from http://psjd.icm.edu.pl/psjd/element/bwmeta1.element.psjd-ca4738cb-a4fe-467b-b164-639a3241fba7;jsessionid=C9280D5DCF1C64251103F2BB2ED6A2F6
Depreli, Ö. & Angin, E. (2018). Review of scapular movement disorders among office workers having ergonomic risk. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 31(2018), 371-380.
Hasegawa, T., Katsuhira, J., Oka, H., Fujii, T., & Matsudaira, K. (2018). Association of low back load with low back pain during static standing. PLOS One, 13(12), e0208877.
Hung, Y., & Darling, W. (2013). Scapular Orientation During Planar and Three-dimensional Upper Limb Movements in Individuals with Anterior Glenohumeral Joint Instability. Physiotherapy Research International: The Journal for Researchers and Clinicians in Physical Therapy, 19(2014), 34-43.
Jeon, I., Kwon, O., Hwang, U., Jung, S., & Weon, J. (2019). Increased Scapular Anterior Tilting and Decreased Humeral Internal Rotation in the Mouse Shoulder in Computer Workers with Shoulder Pain. Indian Journal of Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy, 13(2), 111-115.
Keown, G.A., & Tuchin, P.A. (2018). Workplace Factors Associated with Neck Pain Experienced by Computer Uses: A Systematic Review. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 41(1), 508-529.
Kochur, P., Wilski, M., Goliwas, M., Lewandowski, J. & Lochński, D. (2019). Influence of Forward Head posture on Myotonometric Measurements of Superficial Neck Muscle Tone, Elasticity, and Stiffness in Asymptomatic Individuals with Sedentary Jobs. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 42(3), 195-202.
Shariat, A., Cardoso, J.R., Cleland, J.A., Danaee, M., Ansari, N.N., Kargarfard, M., & Tamrin, B.M. (2018). Prevalence rate of neck, shoulder and lower back pain in association with age, body mass index and gender among Malaysian office workers. Work, 60(2018), 191-199.
Southard, K.J., Rhoades, J.L., Whitehead, J.R., & Walch, T.J. (2018). A Signage Intervention Decreases Inactive Study Breaks in College Students. American Journal of Health Studies, 33(1), 52-60. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.endeavour.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=15&sid=279746ad-f785-4a87-8fa6-b2b526c5a51e%40sessionmgr4006
SzczygieŁ, E., Sieradzki, B., Maslon, A., Golec, J., Czechowska, D., Weglarz, K., SczygieŁ, R., & Golec, E. (2019). Assessing the impact of certain exercises on the spatial head posture. International journal of Occupational Medicine & Environmental Health, 32(1), 43-51.
Tsang, S.M.H., So, B.C.L, Lau, R.W.L., Dai, J., & Szeto, G.P.Y. (2018). Effects of combining ergonomic interventions and motor control exercises on muscle activity and kinematics in people with work-related neck-shoulder pain. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2018(118), 751-765.
Vallance, J.K., Gardiner, P.A., Lynch, B.M., D’Silva, A., Boyle, T., Taylor, L.M., Johnson, S.T., Buman, M.P., & Owen, N. (2018). Evaluating the Evidence on Sitting, Smoking, and Health: Is Sitting Really the New Smoking? American Journal of Public Health, 108(11), 1478-1482.