Sarah Oliver Osteopathy, 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) 07708130319 (Fulham)

How to Sit at Your Desk – 9 Easy Steps for Better Posture at Work

Good posture helps prevent aches and pains AND helps you look fitter and healthier. After all, no one wants a hunch back.

Working at a desk is rarely conducive to good posture. Luckily there are some simple steps to make your work station easier on your body.

Avoid back pain with better posture at your desk.

This dog is sad because it has poor posture.Photo Credit: purprin via Compfight cc 


desk  1. Clear all your clutter off of your desk and from under your desk.









Raise your chir so your arms are at desk height2. Sit on your chair and adjust the height so your bent elbows are level with your desk.






Adjust your screen to eye level3. Raise your monitor so the top is approximately level with your eyes.  You might need someone to help you with this.

Most modern screens are height adjustable.  You might also need to use books, reams of paper or a box to achieve the right height.




Shuffle back so your are resting against the back support4. Sit back in your chair, with your low back and bottom against the back rest.

If the seat of your chair touches the back of your knees, it is too big!  You may be able to slide the seat back in to a better position (there will be rails on the underside).  If not, your chair is too big and you need a smaller one!  The seat pan should be shorter than your thighs.




PUll your chair under your desk5.  Pull your chair right under your desk so your tummy is close to the edge of the desk.

Move anything under your desk that gets in the way.  If there are arms on your chair that get in the way, lower them, remove them, or find a chair without arms.




Screen at arms length6. Stretch your arm out in front of you.  Your screen should be at the tip of your outstretched fingers.

If your desk is too narrow just move it as far back as possible.  If you can’t read the screen at that distance, get your eyes retested!   You could also change your display settings to make text appear larger.  Your monitor must be directly in front of you. Don’t even think about putting it in the corner or at a funny angle!



Support your feet with a foot rest if needed.7.  Don’t leave your feet dangling or resting on the chair wheels.  If you can’t touch the floor (most people under 5’6″ will not be able to) get a foot rest.

A make shift version made of reams of paper or archive boxes works too.  Just aim to have your knees bent at about 90′ – and don’t raise them above your hips.

Don’t cross your legs.



Have yor mouse and keyboard within easy reach8. Bring your keyboard and mouse forwards so they are just a few inches from the desk edge. As with the monitor, keep them directly in front of you.  You don’t want to turn your arm outwards in order to reach.




Take a break from your desk every hour!9. Most importantly, get up for a minute or two every hour.  Go and make some tea or speak to a colleague.  Your eyes and muscles become fatigued if forced to do the same task for hours on end, so do yourself a favour and take a break.






Following these instructions should leave you feeling a lot more comfortable.   They are only a starting point though – everyone has different needs so you may well need to seek personalised advice.  Speak to your employer if your desk is uncomfortable.

If you suffer with pain at work, you may benefit from osteopathic treatment,  Give me a call on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708130319 (Fulham) to arrange an appointment.

Improve your Posture in 30 seconds a Day

If you ever notice your self slumping forwards with rounded shoulders and a ‘hunched’ back, this exercise is for you!

improve your posture



1. Sit or stand upright with feet shoulder width apart.

2. Pull your shoulder blades together as shown above.

3. Hold for 5 seconds.

4. Repeat 6 times, once a day.


- You can make this exercise even better by also pulling your shoulders down towards the top of your hips.

It may feel a bit strange at first, but persevere as it really will make a difference.   You can do this anywhere you like; at your desk, on the train etc.

Keep breathing normally while you stretch. Do not hold your breath.

Stretch gently and slowly. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.

If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.

Weekend Reads: March

Another month has flown by meaning it is time for a month’s worth of news and articles.  Pour yourself a coffee and enjoy.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Would watching an autopsy make you a better person?

As today is Mother’s Day, take a look at traditions of motherhood from around the world.

Did you know the word ok celebrated its 175th birthday this month? But where did it come from?

Oranges are famous for being high in vitamin C but there are plenty of foods with even more vitamin C.  Here are 4 of them.

Turns out our bones are filled with goo, which allows them to bend a little and avoid getting broken.

Do you have whatappititis?

How many of these fitness myths did you believe?

I totally want to try this mint choc chip avocado smoothie.

Yoga classes in Walthamstow

Nearly everyone can benefit from taking up regular exercise, and yoga is a good option.  The combination of stretching, relaxation and strengthening seems to work very well, and the expertise of a good teacher helps prevent injury.

Find a yoga class in waltamstow


There are a myriad of different classes available across London ( This article offers a good explanation of the various types).


Here are some close to my clinic at Ashlins in Walthamstow:


Yoga Me Happy

Contact: @yogamehappy1  /  / 07710 621 268


Premier Fitness Club, Finsbury Park. Tuesday 6.45-8pm

Peter May Sports Club, Walthamstow. Wednesday 12-1pm

Quaker Meeting House, Walthamstow. Thursday 6.30-8pm

Lloyd Park Bowling Pavilion, Walthamstow. Sunday 9.30-10.45am, 11-12.15pm

Simon Owen

Contact: / 07973 523237


Leytonstone United Free Church, 55 Wallwood Road, Leytonstone, London. Monday 9.30-11am; Friday 12.30-2pm.

Quaker Meeting House, Bush Road, Leytonstone, London, E11 1HY Monday 7.30-9.30pm

yoga classes in walthamstow

Yoga Ros  


Classes: Church Hill Studios, Stainforth Road Entrance – 6 Church Hill, Walthamstow E17 3RY.  Saturday 7-9am

Kay Russell

Peterhouse Centre, 122 Forest Rise, Walthamstow, London E17 3PW

Hayley Yoga



Village Drop-in, Orford Road. Monday 7-8.15pm

Health Works, 111a Hoe Street. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays

To search for more classes try


Have you tried any of these classes?  How were they?


Shoulder Exercise for Flexibility – Pendulum

If you are recovering from a shoulder injury or noticing stiffness around your shoulders, try this gentle exercise.

Shoulder mobility exercise


1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.

2. Lean forwards from your waist.

3. Rest one arm on a chair, table or wall.

4. Allow your other arm to hang freely.

5. Gently swing your arm in a small circle.

6. Perform for 30 seconds clockwise and 30 seconds anti-clockwise.

7. Repeat this exercise on both arms, once a day.

You can make this exercise a little stronger by holding a light weight in your hand.  A tin of beans works perfectly.

Please get advice from a qualified professional before embarking on any stretching or exercise program.  These instructions are provided for reference only.



-       Keep breathing normally while you stretch.  Do not hold your breath.

 -       Stretch gently and slowly.  You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.

 -       If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

 -       Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.

Weekend Reads: February

Weekend Reads: February

February is finally over so it is time for my round up of the best in health news.  Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

The shortest month feels like the longest.

The shortest month feels like the longest.


People who believe in the cult of “superfoods”, of edible stuff that supposedly behaves like medicine, might as well believe that the Earth is held up by giant turtles.Why I’m so Bored of Superfoods

Sitting all day is no good for you, and this article in the Washington Post explains why. Don’t sit on something wobbly like they recommend though.

Can computer games make you healthier?  Apparently playing Tetris for 3 minutes can reduce the urge to eat, drink and smoke.

If you’re a runner, try this method of stretching your hamstrings.

What can your earwax reveal about you?

It is still a bit cold for camping, but it could help reset your body clock.

A reminder that dark chocolate is good for you.

If you’re in the mood for baking, try these fudgy avocado brownies. Yum!

If you like this kind of thing, follow me on twitter where I post interesting reads most days.


Have you read any good articles this month? Share them in the comments.



One Free and Easy Way to Relieve Low Back Pain

One Free and Easy Way to Relieve Low Back Pain

When you are in pain it can seem impossible to get comfortable.  To some extent that’s a good thing; you’re better off staying active.  Everyone needs to rest eventually and I find this technique often helps.

It is particularly useful for disc injuries but can help many other causes of low back pain.


1. Simply find somewhere warm and comfortable to lay down.  Your bed is fine; a yoga mat or duvet on the floor is ideal.

2. Place a small pillow under your head.

3. Make a pile of books or cushions as high as the length of your thigh.

4. Bend your knees up, and rest your legs on top of the pile as shown below.

5. Relax in this position for 10 minutes before rising slowly.

As an alternative, keep your heels on the floor and place just one pillow under your knees.  This doesn’t take as much pressure off of your back but it may be easier to get up from this position.

This position has been shown to reduce pressure on the vulnerable posterior portion of the lumbar discs, and also removes compression to the lumbar facet joints.  It also gently stretches muscles in the low back and allows them to rest and relax.   All in all, a very handy trick to have up your sleeve!

Comparative pressure on the third lumbar disc.  Taken from 'The Lumbar Spine; An Orthopaedic." Nachemson 1976

Comparative pressure on the third lumbar disc.
Taken from ‘The Lumbar Spine; An Orthopaedic.” Nachemson 1976

As with many things in life, less is more. Don’t spend longer than 10 minutes in this position.  When your back is hurting it is best to keep moving.  Try gentle walking and stretching interspersed with sitting and lying down.



If you’re suffering from back pain, please don’t ignore it.  Seek help from a qualified individual such as your GP or osteopath.  If you’re not sure what to do, call NHS 111 for advice.


The Best Way to Sleep when you have Low Back Pain

Sleeping on your side can help relieve back pain

Image from “Stretching” by Bob Anderson

If you’re having difficulty nodding off because of back pain, try this position.


1. Lay on your side. Try both to see which is easiest.

2. Bend up your knees to about 90°.

3. Place a small cushion or folded towel between your knees.

Make sure your pillow is high enough to support your neck.  If you feel the need to put your arm under your head or neck, you probably need a larger pillow.

Your mattress should be firm enough to support your weight; you should not sink in to it.  You should replace your mattress every 7-10 years.


If you’re suffering from back pain, please don’t ignore it.  Seek help from a qualified individual such as your GP or osteopath.  If you’re not sure what to do, call NHS 111 for advice.

Love Yourself, Love Your Spine

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to treat the people we love the most, but I think it should also be a reminder to show ourselves some love.  As an osteopath I think looking after your spine is a pretty good place to start.



Your spine consists of 26 separate bones (24 vertebrae, the sacrum and the coccyx) and around 76 joints.  It allows you to twist, bend and lean side to side while protecting your spinal cord, and for the most part handles the stresses of daily life without complaining.  Unfortunately most of us will push our luck too far, with up to 80% of people suffering from back pain at some stage.


Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to look after your back.


Love your spine, 5 Tips

Download the graphic and print it out to remind you.

1.  Move

Sitting down all day doesn’t do you any favours.  Get up and move around every hour while you’re at work.  Stand up rather than sitting on the bus or train.  Hold standing meetings instead of sitting.  Avoid spending the whole evening slumped in front of the tv.  Regular exercise such as walking, running or swimming is great your flexibility and keeping your weight under control.

2.  Drink

Water, juices and herbal teas are great for keeping you hydrated.  Not only will that improve your concentration but it’ll help your discs and joints stay nice and supple.  I alternate between caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks during the day, and I’ve developed a love for hot water with a slice of lemon.  Try it!

3.  Stretch

Muscles get stiff and sore for many reasons but you can often prevent or resolve this with some simple stretches. This gluteal stretch and low back stretch are great for doing at your desk.  Many people find classes in yoga, pilates or Alexander Technique to be very helpful.

4. Posture

Poor posture is not good news for your spine, especially in the long term.  Whenever you find yourself slumping, pull yourself up, gently draw your shoulder blades together and slightly down, put your feet flat on the floor or foot rest and lean back in to your chair.  If you are standing, take care not to lean on one leg.

If you’re carrying something, be careful not to overload yourself.  Try to keep the weight as close to yourself as possible (so bag straps should be short), and distribute weight evenly across both sides.  You may need to split in to two bags or use a backpack.

5. Get help

If you’re in pain for longer than a couple of days, get help.  Ring NHS 111 for advice, speak to your GP or see a qualified therapist such as an Osteopath.

I offer free consultations which you can book by calling 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708130319 (Fulham).

Video: How Flexible Are You?

Did you know there is a 9 point scale of flexibility?  You might need some help to work out your own score, but it is fairly straight forward.

This video demonstrates it very well:

Score 1 point for each of the following:

1. Palms to Floor (1 point)

2. Left Elbow Hyperextension (1 point)

3. Right Elbow Hyperextension (1 point)

4. Left Thumb to forearm (1 point)

5. Right Thumb to forearm (1 point)

6. Left little finger to forearm (1 point)

7. Right little finger to forearm (1 point)

8. Left knee Hyperextension (1 point)

9. Right knee Hyperextension (1 point)


What did you get? A score of 0-3 is usually considered ‘normal’.  A score of 4 or more suggests generalised hypermobility, with a score of 9 being extremely hypermobile.

Either way, it is important to remember that this is only one test.  Taken on its own it doesn’t really mean much, but combined with a history of joint problems and other tests it can be useful in reaching a diagnosis.  As a therapist it is important for me to see how flexible my patients are, and adapt their treatment accordingly.

If you feel you are hypermobile, you may benefit from some strengthening exercises.  Yoga and pilates seem to work very well so you may wish to search for a class in your area.

If you’re suffering with pain, don’t keep it to yourself! Seek professional advice; there may well be a quick and easy treatment.  I offer free consultations lasting 15 minutes – give me a call on 020 8520 5268 (Walthamstow) or 07708130319 (Fulham) to book.