Rehabilitation Services Blog

February 6, 2019

Sit Up Straight

How many still hear their mother’s words “sit up straight”? While it might ring bad memories, all mothers had their child’s best interest in mind. Postural problems are increasingly common especially as technology usage increases. We are spending more time sitting in front of a computer or looking down at our phones than ever before. More people are working from home, in fact recent stats state, “the number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased 115% between 2005 and 2015.”1 This recent trend is moving more people to sitting longer while using a computer, laptop, or other electronic device to communicate from home. While injury risk can account for 20% due to poor work design, the other 80% is due to worker habit.2 

So what can be done about this?

Ergo breaks!

If work activities last 8-12 hours or longer, breaks need to be built in to the day. Every 30 minutes take a standing or walking break to stretch and relieve pressure from highly used areas, such as wrists, neck, and shoulders.

Let’s go over some stretches that will relieve common pain areas from prolonged sitting and computer use.

Finger and Wrist Flexor Stretch
1. Straighten your elbow with your palm up.
2. Use your other hand to pull down on the palm of your hand.
3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Finger and Wrist Extensor Stretch
1. Straighten your elbow with your palm down.
2. Use your other hand out pull down on the back of your hand.
3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Neck Shoulder Stretch
1. Place back of hands on forehead.
2. Pull elbows back by rotating palms outward and squeeze shoulder blades together.
3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Hamstring Stretch
1. Place your heel on the ground in front of you with your knee straight.
2. Keep your back straight and lean toward your straight leg.
3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Low Back Flexor Stretch
1. Place your hands on your hips and gently lean backward.
2. Hold 15-30 seconds.  

Keep in mind, not every stretch is beneficial for every person. If you have pain with any of these movements or recent health problems, injury or surgery please consult a health care professional before trying.3

Additionally, there are many apps and programs that can be implemented to alert you for taking ergo breaks. Check out this article highlighting five free apps that do just that 4:

Or simply set a timer.

Next time you sit down at your computer to work, remember the importance of taking breaks in order to decrease pain and pressure on your body.

And don’t forget to “sit up straight!”
1. Reynolds, Brie Weiler. 8 New Stats about Working from Home. June 27, 2017. Flex Jobs. Accessed 9/11/18.
2. Nation’s Business Magazine. March 1990.
3. The Back School. CEAS I: Ergonomic Assessment Certification Workshop Manual. 2018.
4. Wallen, Jack and Vigliarolo, Brandon. Five Free Apps to Help Remind You to Take a Break. June 19, 2018. Five Apps. Accessed 10/4/18.  
Karissa Wells, PT, DPT, CEAS
Karissa has worked for Palomar Health for more than seven years. She spent her first five years at Palomar Medical Center – Escondido, working in the inpatient setting specializing in cardiac patients. She has spent the last two years at the Palomar Health San Marcos outpatient rehabilitation clinic, recently getting her CEAS certification for ergonomic evaluations. Karissa enjoys hiking, swimming, going to the beach and spending time with her family.


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