Neck Pain At Work
Want to know the best ways to avoid neck injuries as an office worker?
As a Physiotherapist, I am acutely aware of the prevalence of neck pain at work. Prolonged sitting, poor ergonomics, and lack of physical activity often create a perfect storm for neck pain and neck discomfort. Sitting at a computer is a leading cause of common workplace neck injuries.
This article provides effective strategies, ergonomics tips, and exercises to help you prevent neck pain in the workplace.
Let’s dive in and explore how you can maintain good neck health, even while being committed to your desk job.
The Pitfall of Prolonged Sitting
In today’s modern workplace, it’s all too easy to find ourselves trapped in the cycle of sitting for extended periods in front of a computer. With the constant flow of emails, deadlines, and virtual meetings, we often forget to take a break.
This continuous, uninterrupted sitting can lead to an unhealthy posture, where the head juts forward, and the shoulders slump. This posture puts an immense strain on our neck, leading to discomfort, potential injury and chronic pain.
It is essential to understand that our bodies are not designed for prolonged inactivity.
Incorporating regular breaks into your work routine can significantly reduce the risk of neck injuries.
How can we prevent neck pain at work?
There are many factors involved in making a healthy workplace for desk jobs and some of these are very easy to implement！
Have you been sitting in front of your desk for the past few hours and you begin to get a stiff neck? This story is all too common.
The nature of desk-based jobs means countless hours staring at a screen, stuck in one position, and consequently neck pain is something the majority of office workers have experienced.
Correct desk set-up
The way we set up our desks can have a massive impact on how our neck responds to long hours of office work.
Have the correct position for your screen.
If possible, invest in a sit / stand desk. This let’s you alternate the way you do your work throughout the day, taking pressure off your neck and well as your lower back.
Choosing a Good Supportive Office Chair
Selecting a supportive and comfortable office chair is crucial for maintaining good neck health. An office chair should support the natural curve of your spine and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor, while your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
The chair should also have a backrest that provides support to your lower back and encourages upright posture.
An adjustable chair is ideal as it allows you to fine-tune its settings to align with your body’s unique dimensions.
A well-chosen chair not only reduces the strain on your neck but also minimizes the risk for other workplace injuries related to poor posture.
Setting your monitor in the right place
By having your monitor in front of you, we limit the amount of time spent craning our neck to one side for a sustained period.
Have your screen straight on to allow your muscles to be in a relaxed posture as you work.
The height of your monitor also helps in stopping to put your neck in bad postures. The top third of the monitor should be in line with our eyes
Don’t have the monitor too close or too far.
Having the monitor in the correct position will prevent us from having to unnecessarily extend to see the screen if it is placed too far and place unnecessary stress on our neck.
Keyboard and mouse set up
The correct position of the keyboard and mouse will help discourage a lot of bad postures that may slowly creep in as we work.
If the keyboard and mouse are kept too far away, we will begin to start reaching forward too much and adopt very rounded shoulder positions. This will start to put unnecessary stress on your neck.
Have your keyboard and mouse closer to you to adequately support your wrists and elbows.
Stretching and regular neck exercises
Often preventing neck injuries can be as simple as incorporating some gentle neck exercises throughout our day.
When our neck and muscles stay in one position for a prolonged period, our muscles fatigue and we begin to fall into poor neck postures.
Doing something like neck rotations regularly, will help keep our neck from stiffening up and gives us a chance to reset our posture.
Set yourself a reminder to give your neck a stretch periodically when you’re working at your desk.
Take a break
Something so simple also can be extremely hard with the pressure of deadlines!
Getting up regularly and just walking around the office (or house if you are working from home) will give your neck and shoulders a chance to reset and relax after some time in front of the computer.
If your neck begins to fatigue or become sore in a certain position then you know you’re not taking enough breaks to give your neck a chance to rest!
What causes neck pain at work?
A major contributor of neck pain at work is the adoption of a prolonged sustained posture. Holding the neck in a semi-flexed position for extended periods increases the likelihood of developing neck discomfort.
The neck and upper back muscles are pulled into service to provide stability for the ‘moving’ arms, hands, and fingers. This results in heightened muscle tension and repetitive strain.
It’s necessary to recognize the harm this seemingly innocuous posture can cause and take proactive steps to alleviate the strain, such as regular breaks, muscle-strengthening exercises, and maintaining an optimal desk setup.
How do I sit at my desk to avoid neck hump?
In order to prevent the strain that causes neck hump, one of the key elements is your posture. Maintaining a straight posture while sitting at your desk is vital. Avoid hunching over your keyboard by adjusting your chair and desk so your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are in line with your hips.
Also, it’s important to hold your phone at eye level when scrolling or texting. This prevents your neck from leaning into an unnatural and strain-inducing angle.
Remember, repeated bad posture can lead to a neck hump or neck pain at work. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly check and correct your posture. One handy tip is to set alarms at regular intervals throughout the day to act as a reminder to straighten up. These small adjustments can go a long way in preventing neck pain and promoting a healthier workplace.
What is the fastest way to relieve neck pain or injury?
Fastest Way to Relieve Neck Pain or Injury
Gentle heat, stretching, and over-the-counter pain medicines are usually the best ways to decrease neck stiffness quickly. Using a warm compress can soothe tense muscles and enhance blood circulation, providing relief to the painful area. Furthermore, incorporating stretching exercises into your daily routine can help improve flexibility, relieve tension, and prevent future neck pain.
Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can also provide immediate relief for acute neck pain. However, these should be used sparingly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as long-term use can lead to other health complications.
For long-term neck pain relief and prevention, improving your lifestyle is key. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is vital as excess weight can put additional strain on the neck and spinal muscles, leading to chronic pain. Incorporating regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and restful sleep can contribute greatly to weight management and overall health, promoting a pain-free neck and enhancing the quality of life.
Should you massage a pulled neck muscle?
Massage therapy can be a beneficial tool for alleviating acute neck pain. It stimulates blood flow, helps muscles relax, and can significantly reduce the severity of the discomfort you might be experiencing.
However, while massage can offer temporary relief, it doesn’t address the underlying issues that may be the actual cause of the pain. It’s crucial to combine massage with other treatments such as stretching exercises, posture correction, and strengthening routines for a comprehensive approach to neck pain management.
Remember, taking care of your neck involves proactive measures to prevent injury and the adoption of habits promoting overall neck health.
How do you know you have a pinched nerve in your neck?
A pinched nerve in the neck, also known as cervical radiculopathy, may occur when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord.
Pinched nerves cause symptoms such as sharp pain in your neck, shoulder, arm, hand, or back. You may also experience tingling or numbness, and in some cases, it might even make your arm weaker.
The symptoms of pinched nerves may get worse when you turn your head, cough, or sneeze.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention to properly diagnose and treat the condition.
What is the best way to sleep to stop neck pain?
The best sleeping positions for the neck are on your back or your side.
The back in particular is recommended; just make sure to use a pillow that supports the curvature of your neck and a flatter pillow to cushion your head.
These sleeping positions can help maintain the natural alignment of the spine and reduce the risk of neck pain.
Furthermore, avoid sleeping on your stomach as this position can put unnecessary strain on your neck.
Remember, adequate sleep and proper sleeping posture are equally important for a healthy and pain-free neck.
Whether spending short or extended periods at your desk, these few tips can save you from developing stiffness and neck pain at work.
If you are having any problems with a stiff or sore neck, give us a call on 0298753760, or book an appointment at our website. We are very experienced at treating neck injuries and work related neck problems.