THE DESK WORKER’S NECK
After years of treating different sorts of aches and pains it finally dawned on me that except for the occasional “headstand gone wrong”, just about every person coming in with a neck problem was a desk worker.
As I later sat – elbow on knee and with my chin resting upon my fist, I pondered over what this all meant. Could it be that sitting was causing these neck problems? Had I just stumbled upon a revelation?
After months of deep thought I kept coming back to only one conclusion – YES!
I was excited with my insight. I’d found a connection – hours of SITTING was CREATING these neck pains.
The human body was simply not designed to sit. (Full stop).
It seems that if you put your spine into a curved “C” shape, rather than keep it standing upright and “S” shaped, you’re going to eventually have some problems. I proceeded to explain in detail to my clients what I had learnt. All the desk workers heard it. The spiel went something like this:
“Desk workers suffer from neck pain due to the alignment of the spine in sitting. When the spine is in its natural shape, that is in standing, the base of the skull is directly centred over the top of the tailbone. This allows the 10kg head to balance effortlessly over the spine. In sitting, the spine changes so that the head is further forwards, hence creating a lever arm of weight AWAY from the centre of the spine. The effect that this lever arm has on the spine is that it creates strain on the neck joints.”
But that spiel was when I was full of youthful enthusiasm with loads to say. I’ve since refined that chat and now I just say “IF YOU’RE A DESK WORKER, YOU NEED TO ROLL”. It’s easy to understand, and everybody gets it.
The point of the story is that if you sit for long enough, your spine will start to lose its natural mobility and there’s a good chance that this will end in some sort of neck, shoulder or middle back pain. What I would advise if this is you – get a foam roller and use it every day.
The foam roller simply undoes all the bad postural changes that are happening to your spine. By using the foam roller for 30 – 60 seconds once or twice a day, you can easily keep your spine a little happier and maintain better neck range of motion for longer.
If you’re not sure how to use the foam roller to stretch your spine, check this short video below –
If you’re not used to rolling and your back is starting to make you look like a camel, then maybe you will need some manual assistance (i.e a therapist to get their hands into it) for a few sessions before you get some good release.
Either way, the roller is the easiest long term solution to the postural problems of hours sitting at a desk.
Foam rollers are available via EMF Physio or at local sports shops.
By Paul Michael – EMF Physio