Is your posture at work giving you PAIN?

Often our posture in the workplace can be the source of discomfort and pain, affecting comfort and productivity.   When we typically sit for 8 to 12 hours a day at our desks, in meetings, and during commutes to and from work, our bodies are subject to stresses and strains that may eventually result in us experiencing pain, time out from our favourite activities, and time on the physio treatment table.   The lower back and neck are two common areas where you may experience postural related pain caused by poor workplace ergonomics.

Did you know that nearly 80% of all adults will experience lower back pain more than once in their lifetime?  The frequency of low back pain in an office worker is even greater, and is often a consequence of the worker maintaining a seated position for prolonged periods without postural variation.

Here are a few cues to encourage “Good Posture” and avoid “Pain Promoting Posture”…



  • Feet flat on floor (or on foot rest if you cannot reach the floor)
  • Sitting tall and upright with natural “S” curve of your spine, bottom in the back of your seat
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Forearms horizontal


  • Feet hip width apart and weight evenly dispersed
  • Shoulders relaxed back and down
  • Head centred, avoid tilting up or down

Pain Promoting Posture (aka what NOT to do!)

  • Feet not flat on the floor
  • Slumping/ slouching
  • Chair too low
  • Sitting/ standing for long periods
  • Twisting
  • Leaning forward
  • Hunching

One hot tip is to MOVE REGULARLY.  Even if you have the best posture in your workplace, this can become painful after time.  Aim to take small breaks often, instead of one long break.  This will limit time in any one position for prolonged periods.  If you have a standing desk, change between sitting and standing as tolerated.  Typically, a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of standing to sitting is advantageous.

Sean Wickens, Physiotherapist, Evoker.

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