Wellness Osteo

Wellness Osteo

At Wellness Osteo, we are osteopaths who focus on achieving optimal health and wellness, which means treating you and sharing our expertise with you. Read on for the ins and outs of osteopathy.


Desk Ergonomics



Desk ergonomics is the latest health craze – maybe you overheard a colleague or even a friend raving about their new sit to stand desk? Or you noticed your neighbour has invested in an ergonomic office chair that offers back support and promises to ease low back tension. Whatever it may be, desk ergonomics is a hot topic and many allied health professionals have much to say on how it works and the benefits. But I bet you’re wondering – is it all really worth the money? Is it as great as what people make it out to be? – the short answer is YES! 


Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) such as neck and low back pain are a common complaint amongst desk workers and unfortunately negatively impact an individual’s performance and cause fatigue (Daneshmandi et al., 2017). A recent study suggested that low back and neck pain amongst workers is the leading cause of disability in high-income countries (Sundstrup et al., 2020).  


Furthermore several studies have also confirmed the relationship between neck and low back pain/discomfort and occupations requiring prolonged periods at the computer and/or desk (Griffiths et al., 2012; Heidari et al., 2019; Jun et al., 2017; Malińska et al., 2021). 


The COVD19 epidemic has brought the issue of ergonomic or mechanical related neck and back pain to the forefront of our minds. Workers throughout the pandemic were encouraged to work from home in order to limit the spread of the virus, leading to a change in working environment (Radulović et al., 2021). 


More and more people were forced to work out of makeshift home offices, dining rooms and even their bedrooms – this brought major changes in work ergonomics and added to the current challenges to health at work most notably preventing/minimising musculoskeletal pain. Furthermore current literature demonstrates that office workers, on average spend three quarters of their working hours sitting and what’s more frightening is that workplace sitting is one of the significant contributors to total daily sitting time amongst office workers (Thorp et al., 2012). 


Recent literature published by Jun et al., 2017 identified a variety of physical risk factors that may contribute to the development of ergonomic related pain amongst office workers these include; 

  • The physical condition of the individual (e.g. decreased strength and/or flexibility, physical activity during leisure time and inadequate posture) 
  • Prolonged/sustained sitting or repetitive movements whilst at work
  • Inappropriate placement of computer devices (such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse
  • Physical inactivity throughout the work day & during leisure time


Research suggests that a variety of these physical factors may lead to repetitive irritation and/or compression to the muscles, joints and neurovascular structures particularly within your neck and lower back as well as decreased postural stability leading to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (Kwon et al., 2018; Cramer et al., 2018). 



How can an Osteopath help?


As mentioned previously the increasing prevalence of MSDs caused by inadequate desk ergonomics is increasing with Kwon et al., 2018 highlighted that 25-51% of office workers, who sit for prolonged periods of time suffer from low back pain (LBP). However, the good news is that Osteopaths regularly treat patients experiencing spinal pain, headaches and other associated MSDs as a result of poor ergonomics – FIND REFERENCE. 


Osteopathy focuses on the neuro-musculoskeletal  system which comprises bones, muscles, nerves and other tissues which support the human body and control its movement (Osteopathy Australia., n.d). So how can an osteopath help you with a MSD caused by poor workplace ergonomics? 


Firstly a qualified osteopath will take a thorough health history detailing your individual pain experience and all that may have contributed to your current presentation. Secondly an osteopath will then provide a comprehensive assessment of your posture, gait and overall movement patterns which will become the basis for a manual therapy treatment utilising soft tissue massage, joint articulation and other osteopathic treatment techniques to restore range of motion and decrease pain. 





An osteopath may also offer advice on common strategies that can look to improve workplace ergonomics and decrease the recurrence of further flare ups of MSDs caused by poor ergonomics some common strategies include; 

  1. Ensure your arms and shoulders at right angles to the desk, keeping your wrists in line with your forearms in order to maintain a neutral position of the wrists to avoid elbow and wrist pain conditions such as tendonitis of the forearm. 
  2. Keeping your feet flat on the floor or alternatively utilising a foot stool  to maintain a neutral position and support your lower back. 
  3. Keep your bottom at the back of the chair in order to support the lumbar spine. Alternatively you can use a lumbar cushion  or even a small rolled up towel to prop yourself up and provide additional support.
  4. Setting alerts and reminders on your computer or phone to prompt some form of movement every 30 minutes – this may be simple as shoulder rolls, hip circles or even walking to get a glass of water.


Additionally some specialised osteopaths offer access to workplace assessment or seminars in order to assist businesses in providing safe workplace environments which may prevent further MSD amongst employees. ‘Corporate Work Health Australia’ offers an online service where you can locate allied health professionals within your region including osteopaths who are qualified in offering ergonomic assessments and tailored advice. A link to this service will be available in the additional resources below. 


Osteopaths can also direct you to further resources such as the Principle Four Osteopathy website where they have collated a variety of free printable resources and videos that discuss optimal office, home office, manual handling and vehicle ergonomics as well as simple stretching and mobility exercises to assist in promoting a healthy posture whilst at work. 





Ergonomic assessment by Principle Four Osteopathy & Free Educational Materials:


Principle for Osteopathy (n.d)

Corporate Work Health Australia Team Search:


This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered practitioner. For further individualised advice please talk to a registered practitioner. 





Bodywell Healthcare. (2020). Working from home doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. [Image]. https://www.bodywellhealthcare.com.au/working-from-home-doesnt-have-to-be-a-pain-in-the-neck/


Corporate Work Health Australia. (2022). Free Ergonomic, Manual Handling and OHS Posters. https://corporateworkhealth.com.au/free-ergonomic-manual-handling-ohs-posters/


Cramer, H., Mehling, W. E., Saha, F. J., Dobos, G., & Lauche, R. (2018, 2018/04/06). Postural awareness and its relation to pain: validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 19(1), 109. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-018-2031-9


Daneshmandi, H., Choobineh, A. R., Ghaem, H., Alhamd, M., & Fakherpour, A. (2017, Sep). The effect of musculoskeletal problems on fatigue and productivity of office personnel: a cross-sectional study. J Prev Med Hyg, 58(3), E252-e258. 


Griffiths, K. L., Mackey, M. G., Adamson, B. J., & Pepper, K. L. (2012). Prevalence and risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms with computer based work across occupations. Work, 42(4), 533-541. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-2012-1396


Jun, D., Zoe, M., Johnston, V., & O’Leary, S. (2017, Jul). Physical risk factors for developing non-specific neck pain in office workers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Arch Occup Environ Health, 90(5), 373-410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-017-1205-3


Heidari, H., Arsang, S., Mahmoodi, M., & Ramezani, F. (2019). Ergonomic Analysis of the Neck Posture in Computer Users and Identifying the Related Risk Factors [Research]. Archives of Occupational Health, 3(4), 430-437. https://doi.org/10.18502/aoh.v3i4.1552


Kwon, Y., Kim, J. W., Heo, J. H., Jeon, H. M., Choi, E. B., & Eom, G. M. (2018). The effect of sitting posture on the loads at cervico-thoracic and lumbosacral joints. Technol Health Care, 26(S1), 409-418. https://doi.org/10.3233/thc-174717


Malińska, M., Bugajska, J., & Bartuzi, P. (2021, 2021/10/02). Occupational and non-occupational risk factors for neck and lower back pain among computer workers: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 27(4), 1108-1115. https://doi.org/10.1080/10803548.2021.1899650


Medibank. (2019). Stretches for office workers. [Image]. 



Osteopathy Australia (n.d). What is Osteopathy? https://www.osteopathy.org.au/about-us/what-is-osteopathy


Radulović, A. H., Žaja, R., Milošević, M., Radulović, B., Luketić, I., & Božić, T. (2021). Work from home and musculoskeletal pain in telecommunications workers during COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, 72(3), 232-239. https://doi.org/doi:10.2478/aiht-2021-72-3559


Rhyme. (2021). Ergonomics Checklist: How to set up your workstation. [Image]. 



Sundstrup, E., Seeberg, K. G. V., Bengtsen, E., & Andersen, L. L. (2020, Dec). A Systematic Review of Workplace Interventions to Rehabilitate Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Employees with Physical Demanding Work. J Occup Rehabil, 30(4), 588-612. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09879-x


Tersa-Miralles, C., Bravo, C., Bellon, F., Pastells-Peiró, R., Rubinat Arnaldo, E., & Rubí-Carnacea, F. (2022, Jan 31). Effectiveness of workplace exercise interventions in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders in office workers: a systematic review. BMJ Open, 12(1), e054288. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054288


Thorp, A. A., Healy, G. N., Winkler, E., Clark, B. K., Gardiner, P. A., Owen, N., & Dunstan, D. W. (2012, Oct 26). Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call centre employees. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 9, 128. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-128