Most people experience some degree of pain each day either due to overuse of the muscles and joints, or an existing injury. Inflammation is the cause of that pain and if it can be removed from the painful area early enough, pain is no longer experienced. Stretching and good posture seem like such basic advice but many people don’t implement them!

Overuse of the muscles and joints can be caused by physical exertion but in most cases of back and neck pain it is caused by poor posture which doesn’t allow the muscles of the spine to relax. This leads to lactic acid production and inflammation in the area. The best way to avoid this problem is to improve your postural habits. If you think about hte amount of time you spend sitting at work (or whatever posture your workplace has you in) and how much of your time is spent in a potentially poor posture.  It makes your muscles stiff and you need to do more stretching. Imagine if you could change your posture just how much difference it would make to your life.

If you are already experiencing pain it means there is inadequate lymphatic flow away from the area leading to a build up of inflammation. The easiest way to improve lymphatic drainage from an area is to stretch.

This following outlines some important postural and stretching guidelines that can help you to take control of and manage your pain.


  • Don’t think of pulling your shoulders back, think of opening your stomach region and turning on you r lower back muscles.
  • Your chair’s seat should not be too long for your thigh.
  • Your chair’s backrest should comfortably support your back where your ribs finish.
  • You need to be able to get close to your desk – arms on chairs often prevent this.
  • The chair should be at a level which allows your elbows to rest comfortably on your desk.
  • Make sure your feet can touch the ground, if they can’t, put something under them.
  • Your knees should not sit above your hips. If you have a very low desk or extremely long legs you may need to buy a taller desk.
  • Position your screen so the top of it is level with the top of your head.
  • Position your mouse and/or phone close to you keyboard so you don’t need to lean.


  • Bend your knees not your back – the muscles of your thigh and gluteal region are a lot bigger than the tiny ones in your back.
  • Keep your load close to you – for every metre something is further away from you it is ten times heavier.
  • For awkward lifting get your feet in as close as possible and turn on your abdominals before lifting the object.
  • Get someone to help you with heavy loads
  • If you consistently hold things on one side you will continually unbalance yourself. This includes holding children and placing hand bags on one shoulder.


  • Do a little bit of stretching often
  • Work with symmetrical movements – if you rotate to one direction then do the other direction also.
  • If it’s easier for you to rotate in one direction then always do your for stretch to the difficult direction and hold it a little longer.
  • Static (staying in one place for a while) stretching is useful but so is dynamic (moving gently through your range of motion) stretching, aim for both in your day.
  • Most lower back pain that wasn’t caused by an injury is caused by poor pelvic positioning which happens when the hamstrings and hip flexors are too tight.  These two muscles are extremely important to stretch.
  • Try to give all your muscles front and back, top and bottom a stretch. When one part is very flexible then other parts can get very stiff to compensate. For example if you’d like more flexibility in your hamstrings it is worth working on your feet, calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, hip flexors and adductors (inner leg).


Have a look at our upper back pain, neck pain and lower back pain pages for more information about how osteopathic treatment might be able to help you with your pain.


If you’d like to know more about me, check out my profile page – Rebecca Baxter