Tips to Improve your Physical Health at Work

Feeling achy, sore and tired after a day’s work?

Many of us spend most of our working day sitting at a desk. Working full time that means nearly 2000 hours a year at your desk! Two in three Irish adults are not getting enough activity to maximise the benefits for their health. Results from the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists in their World Physiotherapy day survey suggest that 18-24 year olds may be the least physically active amongst all adults, spending up to 5 hours a day in front of a screen!

What can you do to improve your physical health at work?

Get moving!

  • Try go for a brisk walk on your lunch break
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Set an alarm on your phone at least every hour to get up and move or even do some stretches



Here are some examples of stretches you can carry out at work working space:

  1. Sit tall on a straight chair.
    Grab the bottom of the seat with your hand on the injured side to lower the shoulder by pulling down.
    Tilt and turn your head to the opposite side.Apply extra pressure (gently) with your hand to increase the stretch if needed.
    Hold the stretch for 304-40 seconds and relax


2. Stand up straight in front of an open doorway.
Place your hands onto either side of the doorway at shoulder level.
Lean your body weight forward until you feel a stretch along your chest and in front of your shoulders.
Maintain the position for 30-40 seconds and relax.

3. Sit on a chair with your back in neutral position (slightly arched) and your chin tucked in.
Turn your upper body to one side moving at the middle back.
Increase the stretch by pulling yourself with the back of the chair.
Return to the initial position and repeat.

4. Kneel on one knee creating a 90 degree angle with the opposite hip and use a chair infront to ensure that your knee and hips are in line and straight when you move forward into stretch

5. Tilt your pelvis backwards to flatten your lower back and transfer your weight forward until you feel a gentle stretch on the front aspect of your hip of the lower leg
Maintain the position 30-40 seconds and relax.
Keeping the spine neutral, bend the trunk forward to feel a stretch in the lateral part of your glutes. Hold for 30-40 seconds and relax.

Improve your work place set-up

Stretching during work helps relieve tension and tightness but ultimately, you need to strengthen your postural muscles to help you maintain this.

  • Sitting position– Sit your hips to the back of the chair, use a lumbar roll if your chair does not already have a lumbar support. Your shoulders should be drawn back and down. Think about drawing your chin in also so you are not poking forward.
  • Chair height- your knees should have a 90 degree bend in them, you may need to lower your chair or place your feet on a box in order to achieve this.
  • Desk height– Your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees and forearms resting comfortably on the desk. If using a key board, you could use a wrist pad to support your wrists. You should be able to use your keyboard and mouse without reaching.
  • Computer screen positioning– When looking straight ahead, the top of your screen should be at the height of your eyes. This encourages you to maintain a neutral spine position, reducing strain on the neck. You screen should be an arms length away from you.

What about a sit/stand desk?
More and more often people are using standing desk or desks that can be adjusted from sitting to standing. The most important thing to remember is that regardless of what position you are in, it’s not ideal to stay in a position for a prolonged period of time

Things to avoid!

  • Poking your chin out
  • Leaning in to see the computer screen
  • Rounding your shoulders
  • Slumping through your back
  • Crossing your legs
  • Sitting/standing for prolonged periods of time

If you are unsure about your workplace set-up, concerned that your posture is affecting you in work, or looking for ways to become more physically active, don’t hesitate to contact us or you can book online  in with one of our physiotherapists!

Laura O’Sullivan

Senior Physiotherapist (MISCP)

BSc of Physiotherapy


Pictures: Microsoft Ergonomic Comfort


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