Neck pain has become more common with the rise of technology & the increased use of computers in the workplace. Sitting at a desk and working from a computer has become a normal part of daily life for a lot of people. With the accumulation of hours upon hours of sitting at a desk, PLUS the added stress of a busy work schedule, the neck and back tend to come out of a long day feeling second best. This blog post will aim to provide 3 fool proof strategies to help you manage your neck pain at work.
But before we do that, lets first look at common causes for neck pain, and when we should be worried enough to seek treatment.
What is the most common reason for neck pain?
Neck pain due to poor posture
When you sit or stand in a hunched-over position, it puts unnecessary strain on the muscles and ligaments in your neck. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and even headaches.
Neck pain due to muscle tension
This can be caused by stress, poor sleep habits, or incorrect ergonomics when working at a computer. If you have neck pain that persists for more than a few days, it’s important to see a physiotherapist to rule out any serious underlying conditions.
When should I be worried about neck pain?
If neck pain lasts for more than a week, it is important to consult a physio. However, if the neck pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention immediately:
- severe headaches
- loss of coordination or balance
- numbness in the arms or legs
- difficulty speaking or swallowing
- changes in vision
- neck pain that gets worse with coughing or sneezing
Neck pain can be caused by many things, including muscle strain, arthritis, herniated discs, and whiplash. Many times, neck pain will go away on its own with some simple home remedies. However, if neck pain is severe or persists for more than a week, it is important to consult a physio to find the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
So what can I do at work to relieve my neck pain?
Check your workstation setup
This is an important component in ensuring your neck & back aren’t being put under unnecessary stresses while you’re hard at work. Improving a few of these small things could drastically change your neck and posture! A few things you should check include:
- Raise or lower your monitor to eye level
- Position your keyboard and mouse so you aren’t reaching for them
- Make sure you have a supportive chair, with normal spinal curves
- Make sure your feet are touching the ground
Take regular breaks
Often we get carried away in our work and fall into some pretty tangled postures and positions (I’m doing it right now while typing this) that contribute to neck pain and back pain. A few good strategies to ensure you are taking enough breaks include:
- Setting a timer every 30 minutes to get up or look away from your screen (a good app for this is Pomodoro timer)
- Find a spare room in your office to pump out 5-10mins of meditation or stretches!
- Alternate between a stand-up and sit-down workstation
- Breathe!! Complete some basic breath control / relaxation exercises to avoid tension build-up in your neck
By incorporating some exercise or activity into your daily routine, your mind and body will be refreshed and ready to attack the day. Whether you start your day with a walk on the beach or squeeze a 15 minute exercise session into your lunch break, find some time for exercise. Your neck will thank you for it.
Here are some great resources related to workstations: