shoulder pain of desk job

The Impact of Desk Jobs on Shoulder Pain: 5 Tips for Prevention

Prolonged sitting can lead to a range of muscle aches and pains due to poor posture. Desk work not only causes muscular tension but can also restrict mobility in some areas by making it difficult to move your arms around freely or even reach over your backrest. It can even cause technical issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome or cause pressure on nerves in the neck or lower back which transfer pain signals to the shoulder area.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce or manage pain caused by desk work – both in terms of ergonomic office solutions and lifestyle changes. This guide explores the various causes behind shoulder pain connected to desk work as well as provides simple tips for prevention that anyone with a desk job should be aware of!

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain

Injury, inflammation, and aging are among the primary causes of shoulder pain. Overexertion, repetitive motion, and poor posture are some of the more common causes of shoulder pain due to overuse. Acute injuries such as shoulder sprains and strains, tears in tendons or ligaments, and shoulder dislocations can cause severe shoulder pain.

Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis might also contribute to shoulder discomfort. As we age, cartilage continues to degrade in our joints causing osteoarthritis which is another source of chronic shoulder pain.

  • Common symptoms of shoulder pain include:
  • Stiffness and/or limited range of motion
  • Difficulty raising your arm up away from your body
  • Pain when carrying packages or heavy items with the affected arm
  • Weakness and/or burning sensation in your arm
  • Pain that radiates down your arm
  • A dull ache throughout the day that worsens at night

Exercise Regularly


Regular exercise is a key part of any strategy for the prevention of injury and pain associated with sitting at a desk all day. A program of daily stretching and strengthening exercises, tailored to your body’s needs, can help keep tight muscles toned and flexible, improve posture and work performance, and protect against long-term effects such as ‘tech neck’ or strain on the shoulders.

To begin an exercise regimen in support of shoulder health, start off with simple stretches that help warm up the shoulder joint. Moving the arms in circles or back-and-forth motions will gently stretch out tense muscles. However, consult with your doctor or physical therapist if this causes pain. Additionally, easy bodyweight exercises like pushups and rows can help strengthen shoulders for better mobility and stability throughout the day when sitting at a desk chair.

Next, build up the difficulty by using resistance bands to add added difficulty to exercises that target the shoulder area from different angles and directions. Ideally, you should be exercising 3 to 4 times per week for around 20 minutes each session; however, it is important not to overdo it as rest days are essential for muscle repair and recovery.

Finally, keep in mind that a moderate intensity exercise level is best for any preventive technique; if you find yourself pushing too hard during routines then take some rest days until your energy levels recharged. To learn more about exercise for this kind of pain, visit

Improve Posture

Improve posture

Good posture is important for everyone and even more so for people who work at a desk all day, as slouching in your chair can contribute to neck and shoulder pain. There are several ways you can help improve your posture and protect yourself against pain.

Keep your elbows close to the body while seated; this will help keep your shoulders in a relaxed position. Consider using an adjustable chair or purchasing one with lumbar support to ensure the lower back is properly supported. When typing, keeping the wrists straight and avoiding bending them up or down while working can also help relieve tension in the shoulders.

If you’re working on a laptop, it’s important to make sure it is raised to eye level since looking down at the device puts extra strain on the neck muscles. Place books or a laptop stand under the device for proper elevation and avoid slouching when looking at it directly. Ensure that this is done properly by having adjustable height features if possible when using additional stands or bookcases; this will allow you to customize your view according to your body size and shape.

Try ergonomically designed office equipment

office equipment

Investing in chairs, desks, keyboards, and mouse pads designed for ergonomic use is an ideal way of improving working conditions while reducing exposure to shoulder pain over time. Ergonomically designed items are specifically tailored with comfort in mind by enabling customized adjustment features such as tiltable armrests or lower-able monitors that allow maximum adjustability so that you can remain productive without straining any part of your body more than necessary.

Take Breaks

Regular breaks from desk work can help to reduce shoulder pain caused by the negative effects of sedentary occupations. Taking regular breaks can help to promote increased circulation and prevent muscles from becoming fatigued and sore.

These breaks should occur at least once every hour and should aim to incorporate a variety of different activities, such as stretching, yoga, or even brief walks outdoors. Taking short task-oriented breaks also provides an opportunity to move your body during the workday in order to reduce stiffness.

Participate in activities outside of the desk job

outdoor activities

Participating in other physical activities such as basketball, racquetball, swimming, weightlifting or running will provide exercise for muscle groups affected by desk job activities – contributing balance force application generated on linear repetition-type motions seen during prolonged chair time. When done at least twice per week these activities have been shown to improve muscular endurance which can have an impact on reducing pain caused by improper posturing while working behind a desk.


The research has shown that prolonged sitting can cause or contribute to a variety of shoulder pain issues. Desk jobs can result in poor posture, joint and muscle imbalance, tendonitis, bursitis as well as other shoulder issues. Therefore, it is essential to take preventative steps to reduce the potential of developing shoulder pain from a desk job.

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