Neck pain is a common ailment, and that may be even more so in our modern age due to the office work environment. What are some ways that working at a desk can increase strain on the neck? Is there a natural way to find relief? Read on for the answers.
#1. Poor Posture Leads to Neck Strain
When sitting at a desk all day, it can be difficult to maintain proper posture (and forget about it during the long commute in the car). Sitting is tough on the back in general, so even 2-3 hours in a chair can cause problems, let alone 8 hours or more per day. Staying in one position all day can also lead to fatigue as the muscles are actively trying to hold your spine in place. Here are a few tips for reducing neck strain due to poor posture at the office:
- Get up every half hour or so to do some stretching or take a quick walk. Feeling better will help productivity, so don’t skip these important break periods because you’re “too busy.”
- Try a desk with adjustable heights (a sit-stand desk). Every couple of hours, crank your desk up to a standing desk and stand for half an hour or so.
- Learn a stretching routine that you can use in the office when you feel your muscles starting to tighten up. There are plenty of simple stretches that you can do in business clothes.
#2. The Wrong Angles at Your Desk Could Be Hurting You
Without getting into a full geometry lesson, it is still easy to see the importance of having the correct angles at your workstation. For example, you don’t want your keyboard lying flat on the desk. A 10 to 20-degree incline can help keep carpal tunnel at bay. Monitors should be high enough that you don’t have to look down at them. Keep your knees and elbows at as close to a 90-degree bend as possible. This may involve having to change your set up, and it can be particularly difficult if you work with a laptop since you can’t control the height of the keyboard versus the monitor.
#3. Monitor Height Is Especially Important
One thing that many people are dealing with is a phenomenon dubbed “text neck.” This occurs when neck pain is related to the repetitive motion of looking down at a smartphone or maintaining a forward head position for long periods of time while using a mobile device. But your computer monitor can have a similar effect over time if it isn’t positioned properly.
While the head weighs about 10-12 pounds, leaning the head forward by 15 degrees increases the strain to about 27 pounds. So even a monitor that is just a little lower than eye level is going to have a major effect on the neck over a period of time. Sometimes you can fix this easily by putting a book or two under the base of the monitor to raise its height.
#4. The Wrong Chair Can Be Your Worst Enemy
The number one thing is to get a chair that is the proper height. Some chairs stop at the mid to upper back, and this is a recipe for slouching all day. You want the back of your chair to come all the way up to the neck and even the head, so you feel comfortable leaning back. Don’t recline away from the desk. You just want to be able to rest your head on it comfortably while sitting up straight, so you are not tempted to hunch.
#5. Work Stress Is a Pain in the Neck
One of the things that causes the most tension in the neck and shoulders is stress. It can even lead to tension headaches to go along with neck pain. But you don’t have quit your job simply because there is stress. Not all stress is bad, and you can expect all jobs to have some measure of stress involved. The important thing is to find positive ways to deal with the stress. A few things you can do are:
- Stretch – This will help work out the kinks in your muscles and relieve stress at the same time.
- Exercise – Exercise releases hormones that combat stress and make you feel good. If you work your core, you can also strengthen the muscles that will help you to maintain proper posture.
- Massage – Going for a massage can help to work out some of the tension, and it will feel nice on the muscles as well.
- Hobbies – Whether you like to read, play a musical instrument, paint, or take part in any other form of relaxation, this is a good way to relax and let the stresses of the week melt away.
A Natural Way to Relieve Neck Pain
If you are suffering from neck pain, whether it is related to working in an office or not, one of the major contributing factors could be an upper cervical misalignment. If this is the case, correcting the underlying issue is the best way to get long-term relief. Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in detecting and correcting misalignments of the top two bones in the neck.
Using precise and gentle methods, the C1 and C2 can be restored to their proper position. For many, this has provided natural relief for neck pain, and even the related issues such as headaches. To learn more, contact a practitioner of this chiropractic subspecialty in your area.