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  • Writer's pictureRetrain Health

Desk Work + Health

In an average year, within Australia, 81% of people sit for some part of their workday, and 50% of people report sitting for the majority of their time at work.

Post-covid, with a rise in the number of people working or spending time at home, the diversity of what constitutes a workspace, has also increased.

With most of us sedentary at work, prolonged postures can lead to musculoskeletal issues, such a back and neck pain, as well as increase your risk of developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

To help support your health, it is imperative to implement healthy habits in your work space, that promote good posture and an ergonomic environment.

Research has found that regardless of how much you exercise, being in a static seated position for extended periods of time, can still increase your risk of developing disease and chronic pain.

Sitting for long periods of time may contribute to musculoskeletal pain as a result of:

  • Lack of movement, reducing blood and lymphatic flow throughout the body.

  • Slouching while seated for prolonged periods, placing added strain on non-postural muscles.

  • Poor workstation setup leading to repetitive strain of your neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists.

  • Static posture increasing wear and tear on your spinal discs.

  • Acquired habits, such as crossing your legs, placing strain through your hips and lower back.

There are simple changes that can be made in order to reduce your risk of developing musculoskeletal conditions.

Personalise your workspace

Ensuring you have your workstation set up to suit your individual needs, is an easy change that will have lasting results.

Image source Corporate.Work.Health

To set up your workstation (seated desk):

  • Ensure you have an appropriately supportive chair that provides lower back (lumbar spine) and upper back (thoracic spine) support.

  • Adjust your chair height to allow for your elbows rest at a 90° angle, in line with the desk.

  • If you have the option, adjust the arms of your chair to help support your elbows.

  • Make sure your hips and thighs are supported by the chair.

  • Tilt (pan) the base of the chair so that your hips and knees are both at a 90° angle.

  • Place your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

  • The top of the computer screen should be slightly above your (straight) line of sight.

  • If you have two screens and use both equally and centre the screens and ensure you use your chair to move your whole body to look from screen to screen.

  • Place your keyboard directly in front of you, so that it is within reach while your elbows are resting at 90 degrees.

  • Your mouse should also be placed within reach on your dominant side.

If you decide to start using a standing desk, take time to introduce the new posture by alternating between standing and sitting in 30 to 60-minute periods, until your body is comfortable with with position.

While a standing desk can be beneficial, remember that any type of static posture, whether it be standing or sitting can cause additional strain on the body.

Regular Movement

Studies suggest we take regular breaks every 30 minutes to reduce the health risks that are associated with prolonged sedentary postures.

Scheduling regular breaks to stand up and go for a quick walk can help reduce these health risks, as well with getting your muscles moving. While having a break, try and incorporate some overhead stretching to counterbalance the seated position at your desk.

Setting reminders for you to get up and do a lap of the office can help to incorporate healthy habits into your daily schedule. You can set a timer on your phone or try an apps, such as WorkRave or Stretchly, to help you stay on track.

Some other easy ways to increase your movement throughout your workday include:

  • Instead of using your own bin, walk to a communal bin on the other side of the office.

  • Go for a walk or stand up while talking on your phone.

  • Use your lunch break for a mini workout or go for a walk.

  • Alternate between a sitting and standing work desk.

  • Park slightly further away from work to increase your incidental exercise.

Setting up your workplace to support your health and prioritising regular movement throughout your workday are vital to staying healthy.

Our team at Retrain health are passionate about helping you to support your health.

Need help setting up your workstation? We have telehealth and in clinic appointments avaliable. Click here to book an appointment with one of our osteopaths.


Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.

Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage and strength and conditioning sessions with qualified practitioners.

If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.

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