Could your Armrest be Causing you Pain?

Today we’re going to talk about something you probably don’t even know you’re doing that might be harming your shoulder, arm and neck. I’ll give you a hint, it has something to do with a common position found in offices, cars, and homes around the world.

 What’s one common thing we do?  We sit. Most of us (for a large portion of the day) sit at work, in our cars to start and end the day, and then we hop in our favorite recliners or super comfy couches. 

 A standard thing that I hear with my patients are complaints of neck and shoulder pain and referral tingling in their fingers. The culprit?  The armrest on your favorite chair.  A lot of people don’t realize that they’re probably resting their arms way too much.  Our arms are designed to dangle.  They’re really strong through the shoulders and collarbone and hold our arms up just fine.  But what we tend to do is lean on an armrest which causes a few problems such as:

  1. The shoulder blade is lifting up, shortening the muscles in your neck, which can create a lot of tension on one side versus the other.  
  2.  Neck position is compromised.  You can get a tilt in your head and create headaches or forward head posture. 
  3. Irritation of the nerve that travels from the elbow to the ring and pinky fingers. 

 We get a lot of people coming in, who say, “These two fingers are going numb and tingly,” and I ask them what they are doing at work? Most people don’t even realize they’re doing it.  I usually say go to your chair and look to see if you have a worn spot either on your car armrest or your work armrest or maybe even your leather chair at home. An indentation might be a sign that the armrest is getting overworked. The other thing I have people do is have a co-worker or a spouse or just anybody (when you’re not looking) take a picture of you to see what position you’re in.  You might think, “No, I sit with my best posture all day.” A picture taken midway through the day could show you sitting and staring at the computer screen, arm propped up.  You might not even realize that you’re spending hours and hours in this uncomfortable and awkward position.  

You could be pinching the nerve that runs through the elbow by leaning on it, shortening the muscles and irritating the shoulder blade. Or you could be exhibiting forward head posture and suffering from neck issues because you’ve been leaning too much on an armrest. 

 So go ahead, look for worn patterns on your chair and have someone snap a picture when you’re not looking.  If you think of it, send me one of those pictures.  I’d love to maybe get a collection of all of the bad postures that people didn’t even realize they had.  You could be one of those people that have really bad posture and didn’t even realize it.

 

To learn more about our office visit our website at Stones River Chiropractic

*Check out our video about this subject and more on our YouTube page