Are Your Shoulders Up When You Type?

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I was Question Markat a cafe, meeting a fellow mother for a coffee pre-Cheeky Monkeys playgroup and that’s when I saw it –

A late-20’s, possibly early-30’s young woman with a blonde ponytail, typing on her laptop with her shoulders around her ears. For the entire time. Every time I looked over at her, there she was, hunched over her computer, her shoulders practically in contact with her earlobes. And all I could think of was:

Neck pain.

Shoulder pain.

Chronic headaches.

And those large, stubborn knots that most likely some massage therapist, someday, would be trying very hard to get rid of.

So my question of the month is actually two-fold, one for you and one for me. For you, the question is:

Hunched ShouldersDo you hunch, pull, or lift your shoulders up when you’re sitting at a desk? (or when stressed)?

How to Check

Take a deep breath.

As you exhale, let go of your shoulders.

If they drop, even a little bit you do.

The problem with this hunching is that over time your muscles become tight and hard and you may not be able to let go of your shoulders, to let them drop down.

The stretch in the last QOM (from July), would help release the top of the shoulder as well.

What To Do

If you found you could drop your shoulders, you probably have a habit of doing this without realising. You’ll need to change that habit. Here’s how:

Take a rubber band.

Put it on your wrist.

Every time you see the rubber band, check your shoulders. Let them drop.

Eventually you’ll notice when your shoulders are up, and then eventually it will bother you if they are.

Of course, if they’re too stubborn you may need some help from us, but at least this way you’ll be changing the habit to reduce future tension build-up.

Now, for my second question

Should I have said something to this person?

I sat there for about 5 minutes, all the problems that this posture will almost certainly cause her circling in my head.

I didn’t say anything. I thought, she probably wouldn’t be receptive, it probably would sound like I was trying to sell her something, it might be a bit presumptuous of me, after all, she doesn’t know me.

My question to you is, if it were you sitting there, would you have liked me (a stranger) pointing out your potentially harmful posture? Or would you have, like I imagined, not appreciated your work being interrupted by someone you didn’t know?

I would appreciate your thoughts in either the comments below or back to me by email. I hate the idea that by doing nothing I may have contributed to her eventual discomfort, but if it really wouldn’t have been appropriate (as I ended up telling myself) then it probably wouldn’t have been helpful anyway.

Lastly, if this strikes a chord and you have neck & shoulder pain from sitting at a desk, we have a free minicourse to help you get started getting rid of your neck & shoulder pain.

Click here to sign up and start helping your neck & shoulder pain today

If you’d like to start having better posture, download our free desk posture printable here:

Click here for the Desk Posture Printable Checklist

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5 Responses

  1. If i were that lady I would have appreciated someone approaching me and letting me know that my posture was not good. I am desk bound all day and I always find myself correcting my posture. I am already quite concious of my posture so a little correction from someone is not a bad thing. Good posture is important!

    1. Hi Mariem, good to know! I really get stuck on this one, because sometimes it’s hard to know how people will take it – love hearing your thoughts 🙂

  2. The saddest part about so many people in society today is that you never know who you’re going to get, and what mood they will be in. I’m the type of person who would be receptive to a great suggestion, and even moreso if you also told me that your were a licensed physiotherapist, rather than some hack off the street. So don’t beat up on yourself for it. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Maybe next time, just drop off a business card as you walked by her table. A subtle hint might do the trick.

    1. Hi Arlene, that’s very true, and why I hesitated. She also looked quite intent in her work. But letting her know re: my profession may have helped as well, that’s a good tip for next time!

  3. When i was younger, i was always so reluctant and stubborn when my mom would point out my posture i would’ve said no. But i was a child and given the circumstances at that age i almost never wanted to listen to my mother correct me (LOL). However, as i’m older and being a very open-minded person i say absolutely to your suggestion. This is because 1) Planting seeds. whether she wants to hear it or not, a seed is planted, and one day it will grow. since Eventually, when she decides to seek attention, she will have to work on her posture ! and 2) trust your instinct (: Maybe she really needed to hear that or maybe she would have thanked you and accepted your suggestion. You never know, and it never hurts to try.

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