These days, many jobs require their employees to work in front of a computer for the duration of their shifts. Aside from the usual stress that comes with work, if you work on a computer all day you may also be susceptible to physical stress, despite being seated. Working on a computer for extended periods of time can cause back and neck pain, as well as other issues. In many cases, the culprit is the way you sit at your desk.
The neck is the hardest working part of the body and constantly makes micro-adjustments when a person is upright. It also plays an essential role in maintaining a person’s sense of balance and supporting the head. If you sit at a desk for hours, don’t use the correct posture, or your desk arrangement is set up incorrectly, you may be dealing with ongoing discomfort that would require a neck pain treatment from a chiropractor. This type of chronic pain can impact your productivity at work, your daily activities at home, and your sleep quality.
Because of this, the team at Cornerstone Chiropractic Health Center has created a guide that can help prevent a painful neck in the future.
6 Tips to Reduce Neck Pain While Working on a Computer
Computers, tablets, and phones can make life more convenient. Unfortunately, using these devices for extended periods of time can cause neck and upper back discomfort that can have a negative impact on productivity in the office. This type of neck pain is often referred to as tech neck, and it’s a common complaint from people who are required to sit behind a computer screen at work.
Symptoms of tech neck include:
- Neck spasms
- Cervical pain
- Reduced mobility and stiffness in the neck
- Muscle soreness
- Tense muscles
Below, we’ve created a list of tips that can help prevent tech neck, allowing you to focus on your tasks and enjoy your work day, pain-free.
Practice Good Posture
One of the most effective ways you can prevent tech neck is by maintaining proper posture. Sitting with poor posture for several hours can result in postural strain in the neck, shoulders, and back.
As you start to experience pain and discomfort, the muscles around the shoulder girdle and spine become guarded or tense. As the hours go by, the surrounding muscles will begin contracting to help compensate for the stress and strain in the primary stabilizing muscles.
If you use poor posture while you’re sitting in front of a computer, follow these tips:
- Make sure you use the correct chair height
- Keep the shoulders relaxed
- Sit in a seat that’s well-padded
- Keep your thighs parallel to the floor
- Avoid crossing your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor
- Keep the elbows at 90-120 degrees
- Avoid extending your elbows and keep them close to your body
- For extra support, you can use a lumbar support cushion
Improve Your Computer Setup
At the office, the desk is the most important component of a workstation. Unfortunately, a desk can also contribute to neck and shoulder pain if the desk isn’t adjusted correctly. If you use a standard desk, its work surface should allow you to type on a keyboard using a relaxed position.
If the desk is adjusted too high, you may be forced to type by elevating your hands, wrists, and forearms, and shrugging your shoulders. This can cause fatigued neck muscles which may begin to spasm after several hours.
If your desk is too low, you may be forced to flex your trunk when typing. This can require you to overextend the neck to see the monitor. In this position, the suboccipital muscles are shortened at the base of the skull, resulting in tension and pain in the neck.
Fix Your Monitor, Keyboard, and Mouse Placement
Your desk should be adjusted to a height that will allow you to easily reach the work surface, keyboard, and mouse. The work surface should also be big enough to hold supporting materials, including the keyboard, computer, and mouse.
A computer monitor’s placement can also contribute to neck pain. The monitor should be set slightly below eye level. To prevent eye strain, the depth of the desk should allow you to place the monitor a minimum of twenty inches from your eyes.
If the monitor you’re using doesn’t come with a stock stand that’s adjustable, there are a few things you can do to place it in a position that prevents eye strain and neck pain. If the monitor you’re using is too short, you can prop the monitor on a box or small shelf so it’s placed at the correct height. Another solution is to purchase a monitor mount that connects to the back of the screen. This type of mount makes the monitor highly adjustable so you can tweak the monitor’s distance from your eyes and its height.
Consider Using a Standing Desk
Many office workers are making the switch to standing desks to prevent tech neck and other discomforts that are associated with sitting for several hours a day. Standing desks encourage small movements throughout the day, can improve circulation, and may prevent neck pain and discomfort if the desk is adjusted correctly. Keep in mind, standing desks aren’t for everyone and it can be difficult for some people to stand on their feet for several hours. However, when used correctly a standup desk can help minimize shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Invest in a More Ergonomic Chair
Office chairs are usually lacking in comfort and are often several years old. Some are also more adjustable than others. If you have an outdated office chair, speak with your employer about upgrading to an ergonomic chair. If you already have a firm chair that’s fairly comfortable, you may need to make some simple adjustments to prevent neck strain.
The chair you use should have a full back that extends up to the shoulders or higher. This type of design provides support to the lower back and will prevent you from slouching in your seat. The full-back also allows you to use a lumbar roll or small pillow if the chair doesn’t provide the type of support you need.
The chair’s arms should also be adjustable and able to support the natural position of your arms and elbows.
Most office chairs are adjustable, so you can adjust the seat depth and height. Making the correct adjustments to the seat can also help prevent neck pain caused by postural strain.
Stay Active Throughout the Day
When you have a desk job, it can be difficult to stay active throughout the workday. However, there are some exercises you can use that can improve circulation and prevent neck, shoulder, and back strain. You can incorporate shoulder and neck stretches throughout the day to maintain range of motion and flexibility. When you’re at your desk, take a few seconds to look up and down, turning the head side to side. Each position should be held for fifteen seconds.
For shoulder stretches, put your arms as high in the air as possible, then reach for the opposite shoulder blades. Hold this position for fifteen seconds. Avoid this stretch if you feel any pain.
Take Regular Breaks to Walk Around or Stretch
Sitting for several hours can cause damage to the neck and the rest of the body. Taking regular breaks can prevent the type of muscle strain that many office workers experience. Walk around the room, do simple stretches, get a drink of water, and focus on relaxing the body. Try to take a break for five minutes every three hours.
Don’t Stare Down at Your Phone All Day
If you’re experiencing neck pain because you stare down at your phone often, consider going hands-free. Doing so can relieve shoulder and neck pain. An earpiece or headset are both great options that many office workers use. These devices can be connected to your phone, laptop, tablet, or computer.
Contact Cornerstone Chiropractic Today to Schedule an Appointment
If you’re experiencing chronic pain and discomfort, you may want to consider chiropractic neck pain adjustment. Even if you have made all the correct adjustments at work, you may still experience neck pain. A chiropractic adjustment can correct misalignment and provides immediate pain relief. At Cornerstone Chiropractic, we can assess your condition and determine if there are any misalignments that are causing tight muscles in the neck or the surrounding regions. Regular chiropractic treatment can also prevent neck pain and discomfort in the future. Contact Cornerstone Chiropractic Health Center today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you overcome chronic pain issues and providing treatment that can help you reach your health and wellness goals.