Why Your Shoulder Hurts When Sitting

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Why Your Shoulder Hurts When Sitting

I get this question a lot in my practice on why shoulders hurt while sitting. I’m going to give you the same advice that I give my patients, and it should make a massive difference in your life.  This problem can be attributed mainly to one thing: posture. Most of us spend hours each day glued to our computer screens for both work and play.

Sitting, standing, and sleeping incorrectly and for hours on end may cause complacent patterns to develop, which ultimately leads to degeneration and shoulder issues. It would help if you always thought about your posture while sitting down. If pain persists, you should speak to your GP or get chiropractic treatment.

As a general rule, sitting for long periods of time with poor ergonomics can cause shoulder pain and spinal degeneration. Shoulder pain will become chronic if you do not take any steps to prevent them, so make sure that your workstation is properly set up.

Although there is a lot of good information on this subject, the essentials seem to be missing. First of all, I would like you to understand why you are experiencing shoulder pain while sitting. Then, they will show you what you need to do to prevent this pain. Lastly, I’ll give you a little tip at the end of this blog that you may have never thought of.

young woman shoulder pain

How to Stop My Shoulders From Hurting When I Sit

To prevent shoulder pain when sitting, the most important thing to remember is to take breaks regularly to stretch your muscles and reset your posture. Always choose a chair that is comfortable and easily adjustable; the key to adjusting your chair for comfort is the height of the armrests. Ensure that the armrests are level with your desk so that you can support your arms while sitting, which alleviates a lot of the pressure on your shoulders.

7 tips to relieve shoulder pain while sitting.

elderly man with shoulder pain

  1. Seat height– Your home office chair seat elevation1 should be freely adjustable. A gas shock control is the simplest means to do this. A typical office chair seat height ranges from 40 to 60cm off the floor. If this range doesn’t work for you, you can easily purchase the perfect gas shock for your height and body weight. All you will need is a rubber mallet to tap off the connecting chair base and seat pan to replace your new gas shock.
  2. Seat depth and width. The seat size should have adequate space to support you comfortably.2 Typically, the width of 50cm is the norm. The distance from the front to the back of your seat should be enough so that you can sit with your spine against the back of your chair while leaving roughly 8cm between the seat and the back of your knees. 
  3. Good Lumbar support. Your chair should have lumbar support and should fit comfortably.
  4. Adjustable Back of Chair. The back of your home office chair should be 30-50cm wide. Your back should be adjustable in elevation and must have a back tilt angle. It should be able to support your mid and lower spine with adequate support 3 of the lumbar region (again). The back should be adjustable to go forward and back and must have a locking device to protect it from going too far back.
  5. Office Chair Fabric. The fabric on the office chair seat and back should be flexible to increase the surface area between your buttocks and fabric. An increased surface area will disburse your weight load better and will make your seat more comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time. Having a ‘breathable’ fabric is always better than stiffer surfaces.
  6. 4D Armrests. Yes, you should have armrests, and they should be adjustable. They should allow the user’s arms and shoulders to be more relaxed. Remember to keep your elbows at your side while using your home office chair.
  7. Adjustable Swivel. Your home chair should easily rotate so that you integrate movement and make reaching for objects much easier. 

Can Sitting Cause Shoulder Pain?

elderly man with shoulder pain

Sitting does not cause shoulder pain in itself, although it is common for people to suffer from shoulder pain while sitting. Shoulder pain is generally caused by what you are doing while sitting and poor posture while doing it. It is essential that while sitting, you remember to take regular breaks and also to pay attention to any actions you take that put pressure on your shoulders. It would be best if you took corrective measures to remedy these before you get any shoulder pain.

How to Relax My Shoulders When Sitting

young woman shoulder pain

It is easy for people to get caught up in what they are doing and not realise that their shoulders are hurting until your next go-to move. You can take steps to relax your shoulders by taking regular breaks from sitting and keeping your muscles warm. An easy exercise you can do while sitting is to stretch your arms over your head to keep the shoulder muscles warm. Make sure that you are using the right armrests that support your arms while sitting to relax your shoulders.

When to Worry About Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common complaint in this day and age of technology, with many people suffering shoulder pain due to prolonged sitting at a desk for office work. Shoulder pain becomes a concern when you feel pain whilst not engaging in motion that uses the shoulder muscles.

when to worry about shoulder pain

It means the inflammation may affect a more significant collection of muscles than just your shoulders. Also, if you are getting paid while you sleep or pain after more than four weeks of treatment for shoulder pain, you should consider speaking to a medical practitioner to understand the root cause of your pain.

How To Get Sleep With Shoulder Pain

sleeping correct to avoid shoulder pain

In our practice, we have found that if you sleep correctly, your body recovers better, and your tissues heal better. Your pillow is an essential factor if you have shoulder pain. Your pillow must be properly aligned with your posture. We recommend natural latex pillows because they are comfortable, hold your alignment and don’t bottom out, and are non-toxic and biodegradable.  


I’ve worked with countless numbers of people, all of whom spend large amounts of time sitting to avoid potential dangers of circulatory issues with this advice that I imparted with you today. By implementing these simple changes to your work environment, you should enjoy long-lasting beneficial effects. 

Numerous factors can cause shoulder pain from sitting at your desk. The main reason is when you work at a desk, they conform to the station rather than make the workstation accommodate you. You may lean forward to see the screen better; you may reach for your mouse or keyboard; cross your legs; have the wrong seat pan; sit on a hard seat; your seat is too low; don’t have forward tilt control. Each of these actions can put your physical health at risk. 

Therefore, getting your posture right will have the most benefit to you. The main thing to remember is that unconscious and complacent movement patterns will ultimately cause you to break down. By staying active and conscious throughout your day and getting your sleep right, your shoulder pain may fall by the waist side. 


  1. Demura S, Yamada T. Height of Chair Seat and Movement Characteristics in Sit-to-Stand by Young and Elderly Adults. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2007;104(1):21-31. doi:10.2466/pms.104.1.21-31
  2. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics Volume 27, Issue 4, April 2001, Pages 207-211
  3. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-10-2323-1_69
**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


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