Working at home can be a pain: How to Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain
Whether you work from home or spend hours a day at work in front of a computer, sitting and working on a computer most of the day can cause some serious havoc on our posture and create tension which leads to aches and pains. Read on to learn more about how to prevent neck, back and shoulder pain.
Thankfully there are lots of ways to battle the aches and pains associated with sedentary desk work. Keep reading to learn more about optimizing your posture, tips for creating a home workspace and finding pockets of time to move through your day to prevent neck, back and shoulder pain.
How To Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain When Working at a Computer
Creating a Comfortable Home Workspace
One of the most important things for your body wellness, is setting up an office workspace that is comfortable and supportive. A poorly setup workspace can wreak havoc on your body and posture which can lead to aches and pains over time. As comfortable as the couch can be at times, sitting at a desk or table is highly recommended in order to provide proper support and alignment. Not only will you be more comfortable, but it’s also much more likely to lead to high productivity.
An ergonomic desk chair is a highly advised addition if possible. At the very least, a chair should be adjustable to put you at an optimal height for comfort. Ideally, your arms and hands should be parallel to the ground. This will allow your upper body to relax and avoid the tension that can arise when not supported properly. This can also avoid the pins and needles feeling that can sometimes occur in lower arms and hands due to circulation being hindered when overly flexed.
To avoid lower back pain, have your feet comfortably planted on the ground. An adjustable chair makes this ideal, but if you find that your feet do not touch the ground, you can always slide a few heavy books underneath to offer support. A lumbar support cushion behind your back can also help prevent and alleviate any back pain that you may have. In a pinch, you can simply use a small cushion or pillow for added comfort.
Relax Your Shoulders
When working aim to have your upper back supported against the backrest of the chair to avoid hunching over which can lead to some serious shoulder and neck aches and pains. You want your chest to be open and shoulders pulled back with your head and ears level to your shoulders (imagine that as you’re sitting that there is an imaginary line going vertical from your head/ears/shoulders). Adjust habits and posture as necessary. Sometimes just being aware of the hunched position or tensing your shoulders to your ears can be a way to slow self-control bad habits that have formed. Check in with yourself through your day to see if there are ways that you can adjust to be more comfortable.
Avoid Tech Neck
To prevent neck strain, it’s important to have your computer at the correct height to avoid the dreaded “tech neck”. Ideally, having your laptop or monitor at eye level and arm’s length away. There are lots of wonderful adjustable laptop stands that are available or you can use heavy books or blocks to bring your computer to the correct height. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, investing in earbuds or a headset is a must! Constantly holding your phone to your ear or tilting your neck can lead to strain and it’s much less productive as well.
Finally, a standing desk is another awesome addition! Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your lower back, especially as many of us have a tendency to hunch forward. When you work at a standing position it takes much stress off your lumbar spine, you expend more calories and it provides additional exercise for your legs. Overall, it’s a major win for your overall health and wellness.
Find Time For Movement
When you’re busy working and meeting deadlines, it can be easy to get wrapped up in work and find that you’ve barely moved throughout your day. Taking a stretch break throughout your day is a great way to stretch your muscles, avoid fatigue and give muscles a break from tension. If possible, aim to get up once every hour, even if it’s just to refill your water bottles, check the mail or to do a few simple stretches.
Below are a few wonderful stretches that specifically target the muscles of the neck, shoulder and back:
- Bend over and reach for your toes. You can clasp your elbows and gently hang (known as “rag doll”) to help release pressure from your lower back.
- Shoulder circles are a great way to get some blood moving and offer some mobility. Reach arms out to your side (shoulder level) and circle arms a few times forward and then backwards.
- Gently and slowly do some neck stretches. Slowly look in all directions (up, down, left and right). You can also do a neck stretch in which you bring your ear towards your shoulder for a really great stretch on the side of your neck and upper shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds on each side.
- To gently stretch your shoulders, hold one arm across your chest (for example, right arm across your chest with your hand moving towards your left side). As you pull your elbow into your chest, you should feel a stretch across your shoulder.
If you have pain at any time, please discontinue.