In this blog we discuss how your office set up and phone use can contribute to neck pain and what to do to FIX IT.
One of the most important aspects of managing neck pain is eliminating or reducing the potential cause of your pain.
Many people do not realize that one of the worst things that we can do for our neck pain is to sit and look at our computer. This was a problem when we worked in offices, but in the current state of the world, even more, people are working from home. Makeshift desk setups tend to be even tougher on our bodies.
In many ways, technology has made our lives easier. One of the ways it has made it harder is the effect it has on our posture. Proper ergonomics apply not only to sitting, but they also apply to whatever else you do throughout the day. A slight change in the angle of your head can dramatically impact the tension in your neck and possibly lead to neck pain. Whether it is the set-up of your monitor or how you use your phone, we need to be more aware of the position of our heads.
The attached image illustrates the increase in force that the cervical spine (neck) takes on when we tilt our head forward to read our phone. Now imagine what that level of force can do to the muscles in the back of your neck. These forces result in strained neck muscles, trigger points, and pain throughout our neck and upper back. When we sit at a desk with poor ergonomics, we strain the neck for hours at a time resulting in injuries.
There is no easy fix for this issue as many careers rely on working at a desk; however, we can mitigate the impact by setting up our desk or workstation properly.
When setting up your workstation, whether, at home or work, there are a few essential things to consider. First and foremost, we must set up our monitor to maintain a neutral neck posture. Position the monitor, so the top inch of the screen is level with your eyes. This can be accomplished by either raising the monitor up or lowering your chair. Typically, we want to set our chair to a comfortable position with our feet supported first and then adjust the monitor height. Set up your workstation in this order so that leveling the monitor does not affect your feet position. If you are using a laptop, consider using a separate keyboard and raising the laptop to eye level.
When seated, if you have to lean in to see the monitor, adjust the distance between yourself and the screen. Finally, center the monitor on your desk. You do not want to have to turn your head in either direction to read the screen.
One final thing to consider is the strain on your shoulders and neck that occurs while typing and using your mouse. Ensure that your desk is at a height that your forearms can rest flat on your desk and are supported. This prevents you from sitting with your shoulders shrugged and straining your upper trapezius. It is also essential to be aware of the position of the mouse while working. Ensure that the mouse is being used with your arms and wrists closer to your body. If you have to reach for your mouse continually, it can lead to shoulder injuries and pain.
Take the time to set up your workstation ergonomically and improve your posture. When we take the daily stresses off our muscles, we can finally give the body a chance to recover from injury.
Below, Dr. Christie provides a more detailed explanation on how to set up your workstation to protect not only your neck but your back as well!