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  • Writer's pictureBalmain Physiotherapy

Mastering Ergonomics: Common Injuries from Prolonged Sitting

three people sitting working at a desk

Are you spending long hours at a desk and in front of screens? Then this is for you! Ergonomics are essential for maintaining neck and back health. Prolonged sitting, is often an aspect of modern work environments, has been linked to a range of health issues, particularly neck and back injuries. Join us as we explore the significance of ergonomics in preventing common injuries associated with extended periods of sitting.

The Impact of Prolonged Sitting:

Extended periods of sitting have become ubiquitous in the workplace, with many jobs requiring individuals to spend the majority of their day at desks. This sedentary lifestyle has shown to have detrimental effects on the musculoskeletal system, particularly the neck and back. Poor posture, inadequate desk setup, and lack of movement contribute to increased stress, leading to a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Common Injuries and Conditions:

1. Neck Strain and Pain:

Prolonged sitting often results in individuals craning their necks forward to view screens, leading to increased strain on the cervical spine. This can cause neck pain, stiffness, and discomfort, commonly known as "tech neck" or "text neck." Over time, this strain may contribute to more severe conditions, such as cervical spondylosis. 2. Back Pain and Lumbar Issues:

The lumbar region of the spine is particularly susceptible to stress during prolonged sitting. Poor ergonomics, including an unsupportive chair and incorrect desk height, can lead to slouching and increased pressure on the lower back. This contributes to the development of chronic back pain and other lumbar-related issues.

3. Muscle Imbalances:

Extended sitting can result in muscle imbalances, where certain muscles become tight and others weaken. This imbalance can lead to poor posture and increased stress on the spine. Over time, it may contribute to conditions such as kyphosis or lordosis, affecting the natural curvature of the spine.

a desk and computer set up on a table

Ergonomics as a Preventive Measure:

1. Optimal Desk and Chair Setup:

A key component of ergonomic design is ensuring an optimal desk and chair setup. This includes adjusting the height of the chair and desk to maintain a neutral spine position. The monitor should be at eye level to prevent neck strain, and the chair should provide adequate lumbar support to promote a healthy sitting posture.

2. Regular Movement and Stretching:

Combating the negative effects of prolonged sitting involves incorporating regular breaks for movement and stretching. Simple exercises, such as neck and shoulder stretches, can alleviate tension and improve flexibility. Additionally, incorporating short walks or standing breaks throughout the day can help reduce the overall impact of extended sitting. 3. Use of Ergonomic Accessories:

Utilizing ergonomic accessories, such as ergonomic chairs, keyboard trays, and monitor stands, can significantly enhance workplace ergonomics. These tools are designed to promote proper body alignment and reduce the strain on the neck and back during prolonged periods of sitting.

The importance of ergonomics for neck and back health in the context of prolonged sitting should not be ignored. The prevalence of desk-centric jobs makes it imperative to address the potential risks associated with work related behaviour. If you think your work environment is impacting your neck or back, book a consultation today with one of our physiotherapists. Together, they will work with you to find a treatment plan best suited for you.  


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