Neck pain at work?

It’s late in the day at the office, and you turn to look at the clock, hoping it is almost time to go home. When you look up, you feel a sharp pain in your neck, and notice that you have a pounding headache.

Could it be from the 20 emails you have gotten in the last hour? Your coworker who hasn’t stopped talking about her cat all day? Or perhaps it is from the position of your workstation and the posture that you have been sitting in all day.

The problem?

The most common thing we find in ergonomics when looking at a patient’s workstation is that they tend to have their computer screens too high, which causes the upper neck to be at a position where everything gets compressed. When your screen is too high, you tend to hold your neck up which causes the nerves and the blood supply to all get closed down, and puts stress on the muscles. When you hold your neck at that position for a long period of time, say an 8-hour work day, you can experience chronic headaches or neck pain and upper back pain.

The solution?

Analyze and adjust the height of your screen. An easy way to check if your computer screen is at an appropriate height is to measure the angle in which your eyes are in relation to the top of your screen. You can use a dowel, ruler, or other straight edge object to test this.

In this case, the position of her sight line is 2-3 inches lower than the top of the screen.

Proper position: Your eyes should be level with the top of your screen.

You can see that we’ve lowered the screen height just by adjusting the height of her stand. Now her eyes are at the top of the screen.

Many times, what we also don’t realize is that the positions we tend to favor can sometimes be causing the symptoms of headaches and neck pain too. Do you ever find yourself propping your head up on your elbows, or slouching down in your chair?

In the photo above, her chin is being driven up, which is causing all the muscles and blood flow to be compressed in the upper neck. Or in the photo below, she is slouching in her chair: shoulders have become rounded, head is forward. Do you ever find yourself in this position, looking at your screen from a distance wondering “is it time to go home yet?”

Easy exercises to do while you’re at work:

Chin tucks: Start in a neutral position. Tuck your chin in and hold for 10 seconds and then release. Do 3 times every hour.

Upper trapezius stretch: Start in a neutral position. Bring your ear to your shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Do 3 times on each side every hour.

Your job might be a pain the neck, but your posture doesn’t have to be.

Frequently check your posture throughout the day and adjust. Any position is a bad position if you hold it for a long time. Take frequent standing breaks, adjust your position, and check the angles of your chin and head. Make it fun: Pick a coworker or cubicle buddy to check on you, and vise versa!

If you find that your neck pain problem persists, contact our team to schedule a free 30-minute pain consultation at any of our 5 convenient locations. We have appointments as soon as same day or next day. Complete the Request an Appointment form below to reach out to a Back in Motion representative.

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