How to reduce neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a computer
Are you wondering how to reduce neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a computer? Just like when you get carpal tunnel syndrome by sitting with your hands in one position, without changing it frequently, you can develop neck and shoulder pain by keeping your head in one position for too long. 5 main reasons for this are:
1. Your monitor is setup wrong
If you’re spending long hours in front of your computer, be sure to adjust your monitors correctly. Otherwise, you may end up with neck or shoulder pain.
If you need assistance in setting up your monitor correctly, we offer professional DSE assessments with one of our ergonomics specialists.
2. You’re using the wrong chair
Too many people don’t consider ergonomics when purchasing an office chair. They just buy whatever is the best value for money, or whatever design appeals to them most.
In an earlier we blog we offer 8 tips to help you pick the correct ergonomic chair.
3. You have too much stress
If you’re experiencing regular neck or back pain, then it’s possible that too much stress is taking its toll on your body. One way to lessen stress is through yoga and meditation.
4. Your desk is setup incorrectly
Have you ever noticed how much effort it takes to move your head forward, as if your neck was stuck in one position? This may be because you’re sitting on an incline, which puts strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.
Having your desk setup correctly can alleviate this problem.
5. Your posture is slouchy
It’s important to sit with proper posture, especially if you work on a computer for long periods of time.
Both carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and neck pain are caused when tendons that go from muscles to bones are compressed. To reduce CTS, we use keyboards that allow us to stretch our fingers every few minutes, so we don’t keep them in one fixed position for too long, thereby preventing compression of tendons into nerves.
It turns out that your head is a much heavier object than your hand, which means your head is putting even more pressure on your nerves if you move it only infrequently during prolonged periods of work.
Imagine not being able to flex certain joints because they were injured or stiff. For example, if you had knee surgery or even just strained or sprained an ankle badly, it would be painful to walk around on them all day.
You would feel more comfortable walking with crutches under those circumstances because they relieve some of that pressure by taking the weight off our knees or ankles. But when it comes to sitting all day, we continue to put weight on our joints, even though they aren’t capable of carrying it (or maybe just barely capable).
Over time, you can develop pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back area because you’re putting too much stress on your spinal discs (joints between each vertebra) and nerves.
Ways to reduce neck and shoulder pain while sitting at a desk
The term computer workstation used to be an oxymoron. It implied sitting in front of a screen for hours on end. While advances in ergonomics have made it much easier (and safer) to maintain good posture while working at your desk, pain can still plague neck and shoulder areas.
The human body wasn’t designed for desk work – but how can you remedy bad habits? Experts often recommend that you change your workstation so that you’re getting more movement throughout your day, but some solutions require relatively minor changes. Here our Head of Ergonomics, Chris Barlow explains some of the things you can do right now:
1. Change where you hold your phone
Your phone is an important tool during working hours, but it should be in a place where you aren’t gripping it while trying to type or write on paper or a whiteboard.
Holding objects in one hand while working with another can cause muscle tension down one arm which leads to neck pain; holding your phone between ear and shoulder is especially problematic since there’s even less space between these two surfaces than with just an earpiece.
Try moving it out of reach so that your arms aren’t constantly reaching for it! Some companies have removed phones from their facilities entirely because they need everyone focused on tasks.
2. Manage emotional factors contributing to neck and shoulder pain
While many people don’t realise it, emotional stress is actually a significant contributor to neck and shoulder pain in ways that impact physical behaviors. Anger or frustration will tend to prompt muscles (such as those in your shoulders) into action involuntarily; psychosomatic conditions like chronic neck pain do exist where the mind causes body issues, making any symptoms worse by worrying about them excessively.
Instead of getting stuck focusing on symptoms as problems, treat mind-body connections holistically. Find natural ways to deal with stress – including exercise and healthy eating habits – which ease many symptoms without having harmful side effects like prescription medication does.
Another helpful trick is to develop a mental image of something relaxing to reprogram your mind. This might sound silly or trite, but it’s been known to be successful for reducing and preventing chronic pain, inflammation and stress – use whatever images resonate with you (some find tapping into childhood memories calming, others like picturing nature or pets) as a way of imagining away bad feelings and concerns before they start impacting you physically.
3. Get onto your feet whenever possible
Can you go downstairs to grab lunch? Take stairs instead of elevators? Take 5 minute walks every hour or two throughout the day?
Walking won’t only help circulation and energy levels but also reduces stress – which helps decrease anxiety and depression, improves sleep quality (thereby reducing chronic fatigue/impaired immune system), reduces obesity-related health risks like heart disease and diabetes…the list goes on. Small things can add up over time!
Think about it: The human body was made for walking, not sitting! But that doesn’t mean we have to run marathons or hike up mountains every day – walking simply means putting one foot in front of another to get around; how simple is that?
4. Change how you sit at your desk
When sitting at your desk, make sure that you’re able to bring both feet flat on the floor. If your knees are higher than your hips (or near them), try adjusting your chair height so that your legs are more vertical when sitting straight-legged with feet on the floor (this may mean purchasing new office chairs). You can view our wide range of ergonomics chairs here.
Even standing desks are better than being seated all day long. If you can’t afford or don’t have room for a standing desk, there are several adjustable options you could look into, like a sit-stand combination desk with an adjustable keyboard tray that raises and lowers as needed.
The best option is to alternate between sitting and standing positions. Every 20 minutes or so, stand up from your chair and do some exercises (even just stretching will help!). This will allow blood flow back into your lower body muscles which you’ve been neglecting if you’ve been sitting still for hours on end!
5. Wear proper footwear
Choosing the wrong shoes can lead to stress and shoulder pain! Shoes should be comfortable with enough room for toes to wiggle – athletic shoes are great for short-term wear during aerobic activities but aren’t meant for all-day wear in offices or classrooms (or even if your desk job doesn’t require as much movement as it used to!).
Many doctors recommend avoiding heels taller than 1 inch and wearing flat shoes instead.
6. Get a good chair
When you’re working at a computer all day, your body takes a beating. For example, prolonged sitting is known to cause stiff muscles as well as encourage poor posture, which can put stress on your neck and shoulders.
To prevent pain or injury, invest in an ergonomic office chair that provides support for your spine; look for one with a curved lower backrest (this helps encourage proper alignment of your spine) and adjustable armrests that give you plenty of room to move around while maintaining proper posture.
You should also make sure it has controls for tilt (forward or backward), height adjustment, lumbar support adjustment, seat depth adjustment, back-height adjustment, headrest adjustment as well as adjustable armrests with wrist rest.
If you need support setting up your chair correctly reach out to our friendly team today for advice.
7. Sit eye level with your monitor
Properly setting up your computer monitor means having it at or slightly below eye level. That keeps your neck in its natural, neutral position rather than slouching forward to look down at your screen.
If you’ve never done so before, adjust your monitor height using an adjustable monitor stand or by placing books under it. You should be able to see most of your screen without having to sit up straight with good posture.
8. Try an exercise ball
If you’re having issues with neck, shoulder, or back pain when you sit for long periods of time, try using an exercise ball as your desk chair. The exercise ball encourages good posture by requiring that you sit up straight.
You’ll be forced to keep your abs engaged, which in turn will help combat shoulder aches. The balls are also great because they’re pretty inexpensive.
9. Take breaks
An increasing number of jobs require computer use but sitting for hours on end can cause neck and shoulder pain. To reduce tension in your shoulders, stand up every hour or so to stretch your arms.
Also, remember that you should change positions frequently when sitting at a desk-even changing hand positions on your mouse or keyboard can help. However, don’t take short breaks all day long; that can throw off your concentration and make you more likely to fall into bad habits with poor posture.
Longer breaks are better than short ones! Get up and walk around; exercise will help reduce tension as well. You may even want to consider seeing a physical therapist who can develop an ergonomic solution specific for you.
10. Use ergonomic equipment
A good ergonomic chair will make all of your working hours much more comfortable. If you have to sit for long periods, purchasing one can make all of the difference. Choose chairs that are adjustable so that you can find a position that is most comfortable for you.
Some chairs even have built-in massagers, which is great if you spend long hours in front of your computer every day.
Additionally, it’s important to invest in good ergonomic equipment such as computer keyboards, mice, and monitors that support different heights and alignments with armrests. Working while using poor equipment is certain to cause damage over time due to strain.
Don’t skimp on quality. After all, if you are going to spend most of your waking hours in front of a computer, it is worth investing in proper equipment that will help prevent discomfort.
11. Stretch often
You should be stretching daily. When you spend most of your day hunched over in front of a computer screen, your neck is held in one position for long periods of time.
One way to help ease the tension that builds up in your shoulders, neck, and upper back is to stretch often. These quick stretches can also help reduce eyestrain caused by looking at a computer screen all day.
Even just doing these 3 easy stretches every hour can make an enormous difference:
1) Forward neck stretch: Tilt your head forward, then drop it slightly lower than where it started. Keep your chin tucked so that you feel gentle traction on your spine as you gently press forward against resistance (your hand). Hold for 30 seconds or longer; repeat 2-3 times. Stretch muscles running along the front of shoulders and chest.
2) Side neck stretch: With right ear facing right shoulder, bring right ear toward right shoulder until you feel mild tension in the left side of face/neck; then hold the position with slight traction (trying to turn head farther) while keeping shoulders relaxed. Stretch muscles running alongside throat/neck.
3) Lateral shoulder blade stretch: Bring fingertips together behind back until hands meet above the bottom of shoulder blades; hold elbows straight out in front for stability, with palms up & shrugging shoulders up & outward. This action also helps rotate shoulders down & away from ears-very relaxing!
12. Watch your posture
Slouching over your computer all day is not only bad for your back it’s bad for your neck, too. Even when you’re sitting up straight, it’s easy to get in poor posture habits like hunching over or slouching.
You can fix these by using simple reminders such as placing coluorful Post-It notes on your monitor so that you’re forced to look at them instead of looking down. If you start feeling pain or discomfort in any part of your body, it could be due to bad posture.
Pay attention to how you’re sitting and make sure everything is lined up correctly. Good posture takes some practice, but it will ultimately make your workday go much more smoothly.
The importance of good office ergonomics cannot be understated: not only will better ergonomics make your days less painful, it will also help prevent serious injuries (and potentially disability) down the road. It all comes back to taking care of yourself: once you’re sore from exerting yourself physically (or even mentally), do what you can to recover properly it’ll save you long term!
13. See a doctor if pain continues
If you haven’t already seen a doctor to identify what’s causing your pain, then schedule an appointment so that he or she can advise you further.
Why does ergonomic equipment help with neck and shoulder pain?
Ergonomic equipment helps reduce neck and shoulder pain in several ways. The first way is that ergonomic equipment can increase your productivity; it makes your work easier, so you’re not as tired.
With reduced stress on your body, you’ll have less muscle fatigue overall-which means less of a chance for tension headaches or neck or shoulder pain. Additionally, ergonomic equipment can help relieve stress on your joints and tendons by taking pressure off them.
You’ll feel like you have much more range of motion with an ergonomic chair than you would with an old-fashioned one because those types of chairs force you into specific poses or seating positions that aren’t always comfortable.
When it comes to relieving neck pain, anything is worth trying if it’s proven to work-even something as simple as anti-fatigue floor mats. People working in offices don’t always consider sitting on a hard surface all day can cause long-term back problems, which can lead to all sorts of health issues-including muscle strains and tension headaches.
These mats are cushioned and they can help align your body while you sit; they also absorb some shock when you get up from your desk too quickly, reducing your risk of having sore joints later on.
You should now know how to reduce neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a computer. If you’re in an office job, your computer is likely your most commonly used piece of equipment. With pain management on the rise worldwide, it’s important that we understand how to reduce these ailments. Luckily, there are steps we can take both during work and after work to reduce pain in our bodies.
What are some of the things that you do to help relieve neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a computer?
If you have a question regarding neck and shoulder pain or would like to book a FREE consultation with one of our experts email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.