Your daily posture. Part II. The upper body
Following on from the previous article about how our lower bodies are affected by sitting we move on to the upper body. Common upper body ailments associated with prolonged hours in a seated posture or similar are; tension headaches, soreness between shoulder-blades and base of neck, stiffness in shoulders and neck, numbness and tingling in hands (thoracic outlet syndrome).
Postural changes mean that the shoulders are drawn up (anxiety/stress/tension), the head forward (focusing the eyes when tired or low screen/high seat) and arms forward (its pretty hard to type or drive with your arms behind you). Some of us will become round shouldered perhaps a bit of a stoop, not sure if this is a problem for you, well it may not be but just take a moment next time you drive in the rain to notice if your head is poking forwards. Most companies these days are very good with adjusting your work-space for you but is your car or home office so well set up? Do you drop your head rather than raise your arm when checking your phone? Do you use a laptop to work at home on?
Possible changes to make; set up your home office as well as possible, if using a laptop try using a separate keyboard so the monitor/screen is at eye height and the keyboard at elbow height, take regular breaks (even if its just to look away from your work or stand), use a post it note on the screen "tuck your chin in" "drop your shoulders", work some stretches into your routine.
A forward head posture shortens the Sternocleidomastoid muscles and requires the cervical extensors to work hard in a long position.
Trigger points in the SCM can cause a feeling of pressure behind the eyes and watering, shortness in this muscle causes compression at the base of the skull frequently associated with causing headaches which feel like a tight band around the head or vice-like.
The cervical extensors at the back of the neck are trying to prevent the head from going any further forward. Imagine going to lift a heavy object or carrying one with your arms straight. All this hard work means that the body begins to lay down connective tissue to take the pressure off the muscle fibres, though connective tissue does not have the elasticity of muscle tissue and therefore can become quite rigid.
A similar pattern occurs with the chest and upper back.