Office Biomechanics


shoulder pain from sitting

How To


The first thing you need to know is that work shouldn’t cause pain.

Pain is a sign that something’s wrong. 

Your body is talking to you and letting you know it needs some help.

The 7 Steps to Decrease Your Shoulder Pain in The Office


human biomechanics


Move into your usual working position just prior to reaching for the keyboard and mouse.
Take a moment and become aware of your body position and posture just before you start to key and use the mouse.


body alignment

The Spine

Check your spinal alignment and make sure you have proper posture and your core adjusted to support a neutral spine position.

Spine Alignment Problems?

If you have trouble moving into proper spinal alignment or can’t maintain a neutral spinal posture, this is Where you Start. 

What To Do

Your shoulders get overworked and sore when they compensate for poor spinal posture. 


Start by focusing on the three specific areas of your spine:

  • cervical (neck)
  • thoracic (mid-back)
  • lumbar (low back)


Work on improving your natural spinal curves in these three areas. 


The next step is to work on your ability to maintain these neutral positions. 

This may feel like ‘work’ at first, but once these positions become automated, proper body alignment is a breeze.


shoulder pain with sitting

The Shoulder

Your next step is to check your shoulder alignment. Are your shoulders in neutral?

Shoulder Alignment Problems?

If your shoulders aren’t able to move into a neutral position, or if you’re having problems maintaining this position, then This is Your Starting Position to decreasing your shoulder pain.

What To Do

If you need some help with this, click the link here for the episode of Monday Moves with Marian outlining neutral shoulder positioning for work.


If your shoulders aren’t able to move into a neutral position, or if you’re having problems maintaining this position, then this is Your Starting Position to decreasing your shoulder pain.


When your body is working in a position that’s not in alignment, it causes extra strain on the shoulder joint, extra work for the muscles, and causes your whole body to compensate. 


Make sure you’ve completed the Shoulder Movement Quiz or evaluated your shoulder range of motion to determine if you have any range of motion issues in the shoulder itself.


Because of compensations throughout the body, it’s important to look at the joints closest to the shoulder that may affect how the shoulder works and can cause pain. 


Your neck, mid-back, and elbows can all play a role in how your shoulder moves and works.  If there are problems with joint mobility in any of these areas, it can lead to pain in the shoulders due to overuse from compensation.


Take the time to review the movement and abilities in your neck, mid back and elbows.  There may be tightness in these areas.


See if there are any changes to your shoulder pain or shoulder positioning when you go through your range of motion checks for these joints.  This can explain the compensations and tightness that lead to pain at work.


basic body biomechanics


With your spine and shoulders in neutral, reach for your keyboard. Don’t start typing yet, just put your hands in position along the keys.


shoulders always tense and raised


Look down and check your shoulder position and compare it to your start position before reaching for the keys.


posture assessment

The Answer

Now answer this question.
Are your shoulders in the exact same position they were before you reached for the keyboard?


If you answered YES, congratulations! 

You are working with neutral shoulder posture. Your shoulders muscles don’t need to be activated to get to your keyboard and you’re not causing fatigue to those muscles.  They’re happy!


If you answered no, then This is Where You Start.

What To Do


If you had to engage muscles to move your shoulders and reach that position, you know your arms are not in neutral.  And those muscles you’re using, as with any muscle in the body, gets fatigued when it’s overused.


Make sure that your keyboard is accessible while maintaining that amazing body alignment you started with prior to reaching.  This could involve the following adjustments:

  1. lowering or raising your keyboard position
  2. adding an external keyboard to your laptop
  3. using an adjustable keyboard tray


examples of bad posture


Now complete the same process above as you reach for your mouse.