If you spend most of your day working on a computer or seated at a desk, you’re probably familiar with the aches and pains that never quite go away. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown over and over to have a negative impact on our health—it can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, back pain, chronic muscle tension, and more. But what can you do about it? First, let’s take a closer look at why desk jobs cause pain.

Why Does Sitting All Day Cause Pain?

Muscular imbalances are a common cause of non-injury-related pain. These imbalances occur when you spend a significant amount of time in a certain position that doesn’t put an equal strain on both sides of your body. Sitting can lead to tight hamstrings, hip flexors, and pectoral muscles. When you have a shortened, tightened muscle, the opposite muscle is weaker and longer. Muscles work in opposite pairs to move your body, one pulling while the other relaxes. When one muscle consistently pulls more than its opposite, you can experience chronic pain. If you sit all day with your shoulders rounded forward, your pectoral muscles are working too hard, while your upper back muscles aren’t working at all. Your posture will tend to remain in this position whether you’re sitting or standing, leading to further pain.

Similarly, your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles should be working together to hold you upright. When you slouch in a desk chair for long periods of time, however, your abdominal muscles grow weaker and your lower back is placed under considerable strain. Tight hamstrings can further increase this problem, leading to your lower back caving in and placing further stress on the area.

Knee, leg, and hip pain can also be caused by muscular imbalances from sitting. Crossing your legs or sitting with them spread for long periods of time can cause tightness in the inner or outer thighs, which can make it painful to walk and stand. When legs are frequently crossed, it can rotate the femur bone and cause knee pain. Spreading your legs frequently can cause sciatic nerve pain, which will affect the back of the leg.

How to Avoid Pain from Sitting

If quitting your job isn’t an option, then you can still take measures to address and prevent pain. Here are some tips to help you combat the pain and prevent the negative side effects of sitting.


Since most chronic pain is muscular in nature, it’s important to include stretching and strength training into your daily routine to reverse the effects of sitting for long periods of time. Consult a pain management specialist like our team at Pain Medicine Group to learn which stretches and strength workouts will be most effective to address your pain. Often, stretching tightened muscles, like the pectorals, hamstrings, and hip flexors is recommended, as is strengthening your abdominal muscles, upper back and shoulders, and quads.


Your desk setup can also be contributing to your pain. The placement of your chair, monitors, keyboard, and mouse are critical to improving the ergonomics of your workspace and relieving pain. Here are some things to check:

Work Habit Changes

Do you sit down in the morning and then avoid getting up? Do you eat lunch at your desk? It can be easy to be caught up in your work, but making small changes to your work habits can help. If you have a desk that can convert to a standing desk (or have an added riser to convert your standard desk into a standing one) try to spend several hours a day on your feet. You don’t need to manage this all in one go, but alternating between sitting and standing can help keep you limber and reduce the risks of sitting-related health issues.

If you can’t stand at your desk, it’s critical to get up at least every 20 minutes to a half hour. Use a timer or appointment reminder to help you remember to move, even if it’s only to the coffee maker and back. Try to aim for 5 minutes of standing, walking or stretching for every 30 minutes you sit.

If you tend to take your lunch at your desk, mix it up and try taking it elsewhere. Sit outside, sit at a different height table, or even take a short walk during your lunch break to help remain active and loosen up again.

You don’t need to make huge changes to see an improvement in your chronic pain. If you want more guidance, schedule an appointment with our Sarasota pain management specialists. We can help you find the right solutions for your unique needs, and get you started on the road to living pain-free.

Contact the Pain Medicine Group online, or call (888) 832-3597 to get started!

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