Desk Posture for TMJ Pain Relief
Did you know that poor posture (while sitting or standing) can cause TMJ jaw pain?
Poor posture can be the result of slumping over your laptop, computer tablet, or smart phone. As screen time increases, so does the severity of how poor posture impacts the alignment of your neck, head and jaw. When the head leans forward, muscles along the neck become overly tight, stretched and weakened. Forward neck posture can lead to muscle and joint tension in the head, neck and shoulders. All of this throws off the mechanics of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in symptoms of TMJ disorder. Symptoms may include TMJ jaw pain, TMJ headaches, TMJ neck and ear pain, and jaw popping and clicking.
The spine is directly related to your jaw. Good spinal posture is key to jaw health! Sitting and standing straight eases the pressure off of the lower jaw, enabling the jaw to sit naturally instead of forward. Since most of us have been working from home lately, let’s understand the key concepts for developing good desk posture for TMJ pain relief.
Desk Posture Checklist for TMJ Pain Relief:
- Keep key objects like pens, phone and printed documents close to your body in order to minimize reach. Otherwise stand up when you need to reach for these items.
- The mouse and keyboard should be on the same surface.
- The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor.
- The mouse should be to the right or left of the keyboard.
- Try to alternate the hand that you use to operate the mouse.
- The desk monitor should be in front of you, one arm’s length away.
- The top of the screen should be at eye level or slightly below.
- Lower the desk monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches if you wear bifocal eyeglasses.
- Your brightest light source should be to the side of the monitor.
- Arm and hand position are important. Wrists should be kept straight. Arms should stay close to your body. Hands should be at the same level or slightly below the elbows.
- Choose an adjustable desk chair that provides support for your spine.
- Adjust the seat height so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest or stool.
- Thighs should be parallel to the floor.
- Adjust the arm rests so that your arms rest comfortably and shoulders are relaxed.
- Never cradle the phone with your head and neck. Either use a speaker or a headset.
Once your desk space is in order, you may feel more inclined to work longer hours. It’s important to stand, move and stretch. Set a timer for 20 minutes and then get up from your desk. Try working from a standing position or walk around while you are on the phone. There are reasonably priced adjustable desks so that you can use the same surface to sit or stand at while working. Make sure to make adjustments to your workspace if you are in a standing position. Keeping your neck, shoulders and head muscles relaxed while sitting or standing is important to stress reduction and TMJ pain relief.