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How to prevent aches and pains from desk work

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

It’s far too often that we see our clients at Body Align Myotherapy & Massage in pain due to being desk bound 5 days a week. As more aspects of our lives are going online, it appears that this will only get worse. We want to provide our friends with some tips and tools to help prevent those aches and pains that can develop throughout the day.

First of all, it’s important that your desk is set up in a way that supports your body instead of causing more strain.  Here are the basics:

  1. Adjust the chair height so that your elbows are at desktop level (roll your shoulders back and relax them first).

  2. Sit fully back into your chair, adjust the seat back for good lower back support, you can purchase additional lumbar support if your chair doesn’t provide you with any.

  3. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor, use a footrest.

  4. Set up your monitor so the top third of the viewing area is at or below eye level. Use monitor stand if required. As long as you can clearly view the screen contents there is no specific distance that you need to be from the monitor. This will contribute to keeping the neck neutral.

  5. With elbows at the desk level, ensure that your wrists are straight. Use wrist rest if required.

  6. Position the mouse as close as is practical to the keyboard, so that both elbows are directly under the shoulders while working.

This also applies when using a standing desk, you may wish to purchase an anti-fatigue mat to provide comfort and support while you are standing.

Whether you are sitting or standing, your arms are still often in a forward posture and your shoulders may be rounded forwards which can cause fatigue in the muscles which retract your arms, the tops of your shoulders and your pectorals. It is important to stretch frequently throughout the day. Don’t wait for your body to be screaming out in pain before looking after it, make sure you listen to the whispers!

Here are some basic stretches that you can incorporate to your daily routine to help ease your tension....

Neck / upper shoulder stretch:

 Lift one arm and bring it up and across your head. Then place the palm of your hand on your head. Use your hand to pull your head gently down towards your shoulder until a stretch is felt on the opposite side of the neck and shoulder.

Mid-back & Pecs Stretch:

Standing, lace your fingers and push your hands in front of you so you feel a

stretch in your middle back region. Once you have done this, bring your arms behind you and lace your fingers once again, then pull back to open up through the chest and pecs. Maintain a good, upright posture whilst doing these ones.


With your elbow straight, slowly flex the wrist taking your fingers towards the ground. Support with your other hand and taking it into a slight stretch.. Hold for 30 seconds and release. Repeat this three times.  

These stretches should all be held for at least 30 seconds, in reps of three to lengthen the muscle tissue. Try doing them when sitting at your desk or waiting for the kettle to boil or even whilst sitting on the toilet! There isn’t such a thing as ‘not having enough time’ to stretch!

If you feel that you are carrying extra tension and stress through your shoulders, another great way to assist this is by using a heat pack. You can lay it across your shoulders whilst sitting/ standing at your desk. It will promote blood flow to the area, assist in tissue relaxation. The weight of the heat pack across your shoulders will help to drop your shoulders and promote a better resting posture.

It’s also important to take frequent breaks from your desk and computer screen, try to move around once an hour at least. Where possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even bring your walking shoes to work and go for a walk during your lunch break, get some fresh air and get your body moving! And finally, drink plenty of water! We all know how important water is for overall health and well-being, but trips to the toilet or to the kitchen to refill your water bottle will get you moving without you even realising it!

If you have any questions regarding any of these stretches or tips, please don’t hesitate to contact us! 


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