Have you ever felt achy and stiff by the end of a grueling workday? Almost everybody has experienced it after sitting at their computers for a long time. When you work in the same position for several hours without taking any breaks, you might find yourself with a stiff and sore neck and maybe a slight headache.
This article explains why you get computer neck pain when sitting at a desk for long periods and several tips to solve these issues.
What Causes Neck Pain When Sitting at Your Desk?
Several things cause neck pain when sitting. Here are some of the most common reasons:
A proper posture might be an essential factor to prevent neck pain while working at your desk. Unfortunately, many people can only sit at their workspaces, and doing so for several hours can cause strain in your neck, back, and shoulders.
After some time, the natural inclination of many people is to lean on the desk for support. They hunch their shoulders and crane their neck forward. If you keep this position, you might start to experience soreness as your neck and spinal muscles begin to tense.
Should you continue working without changing your posture, your muscles become more fatigued and the pain accentuates. Surrounding muscles contract as they try and compensate for their exhaustion, resulting in significant pain and muscle guarding throughout your neck and upper back area.
Desks are a vital component of every workstation, and they can contribute to your neck pain if you don’t adjust them properly. With a standard desk, the desk’s height should let you type on your keyboard as your wrists slightly hover over it.
If the desk is too high, you might compensate by shrugging your shoulders to elevate your forearms, wrists, and hands to an adequate height. Unfortunately, this action strains your neck muscles after a while. When they tighten up, the tension can lead to a headache that starts at your skull’s base, which progresses to the front as your symptoms deteriorate.
Should the desk be too low, you might have to flex your body forward to use your keyboard. Doing this requires you to extend your neck further than usual in order to see the monitor correctly. This forward head posture shortens your suboccipital muscles at your skull’s base, resulting in computer neck pain when sitting and headaches.
The way you position your monitor is another possible cause of neck pain at work. If the display is too high or low, you might have to crane your neck frequently to look at the screen. Slightly bending your neck puts a heavy load on your neck and shoulder muscles. It’s usually worse with laptops, as most people simply place them on their desks, or even worse, their laps.
Inadequate Office Chair
A common source of neck pain at work is the office chair you use, especially if you sit for hours on end staring at your computer. There aren’t many task office chairs with neck support, but having one isn’t necessary to keep a proper posture with a straight neck and a neutral sitting position. Regardless, if you sit for long periods without any breaks, maintaining that posture with a poor chair becomes more challenging.
Tips to Solve Neck Pain When Sitting
There are several ways to address these issues. It would be best if you tried to work on them one at a time, but some recommendations let you tackle multiple problems. Here are some tips that go a long way in relieving you from neck pain when sitting.
Practice Good Posture
Regardless of the chair you use, you can significantly improve your posture and reduce neck pain if you remember some crucial facts. First, try to sit with your back straight with your shoulders pulled back a little. Your head must be in a neutral position, and your ears should be directly above your shoulders.
Then, set your chair’s backrest at a 100 to 110-degree recline to reduce spinal pressure. Ensuring that your lower back is supported is also essential. You can use a small pillow or a cushion for that if your chair doesn’t have dedicated lumbar support.
Hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle from your trunk, and there should be a small space left between the seat’s edge and your knees’ back. You should also relax your shoulders a bit and let your chair’s armrest support your elbows at a natural height. All of these posture tips are easier to maintain if you have an ergonomic office chair.
Regardless, you can only practice good posture if your desk is at a proper height. With a fixed-height desk, setting your seat height at an adequate level occasionally results in your knees being in the wrong position. Fortunately, a standing desk makes it entirely trivial.
Adjust Your Monitor Height and Keyboard Placement
To reduce your computer neck pain from sitting, you must place your monitor display directly in front of you at approximately an arm’s length. If it’s too close, you can strain your eyes, and if it’s too far, you might tilt your head to look at it.
The center of the screen should be at the same level as your nose. When the monitor is low, you might have to angle your head downward, stressing your neck. If you have a laptop, you should get a secondary monitor if possible.
You can use a desk riser to elevate a laptop’s display, but you need to get another keyboard in that case. Try to position the keyboard in a way your elbows rest comfortably on the chair’s armrest at a 90-degree angle while your hands hover slightly above the keyboard.
Opt for an Ergonomic Office Chair
Investing in an ergonomic chair with a headrest allows you to lean your head on it, relieving yourself of some shoulder and neck pain from sitting. It gives you time to relax and lets you hold a better posture easier. Any high-back reclining chair with a headrest and several adjustable features can be beneficial, but a neck pillow can also be enough in certain pressing situations.
The Bottom Line
Neck pain from sitting at a desk has many possible causes. Fortunately, most of them are not only avoidable; they’re also remediable. Making some simple changes to your work posture and optimizing your desk and monitor setup can free you from your neck strain from computer use
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