person preventing neck pain when working from home

Best Practical Tips To Prevent Neck Pain When Working From Home

Since the Covid 19 restriction first began almost 12 months ago, working from home has been the norm for a lot of people and for many,  it will continue to do so. 

While there are some great aspects to it, there are also many challenges that it presents. Some people are fortunate to have a spare room to use as an office,  and may have been supplied with a nice chair and monitor from their employers.

Others are not in the best same position and are working from a laptop on a kitchen table or a desk in their bedroom. 

Throw in a few extra challenges such as the kids being off school, having to make the dinner, not having scheduled breaks, no friendly chats over a cup of coffee, and it can result in a full, busy and long day. 

This can all result in a lot of stress on the body and at Midlands Physio & Back Pain Clinic we have had a lot of people come to us over the last 9 months with sometimes sharp, sometimes achy and often very uncomfortable neck pain.  

And it’s often not just a pain in the neck itself,

It can be pain that runs into the shoulders, an ache between the shoulder blades, pain that runs down the arm, or a pain that leads to headaches …..

All of these can stem from problems in the neck area.

By themselves they can be very sore and uncomfortable, but, if your job requires you to sit in front of a laptop for large portions of the day, it can make it very difficult to focus on your work. 

So, I have come with 3 practical tips that you can do to help prevent these problems from arising, allowing you to get your work done and still have energy and enthusiasm to be yourself afterwards. 

1 – Take some time to get your workplace right

This does not mean that you have to go out and buy a fancy and expensive chair. I’m talking about easy and practical tips. There are some simple things you can do before you ever look up ergonomic chairs.

Ensure you sit into the desk properly so that you are not excessively leaning forward to look at the screen. (spoiler – you don’t need to have a perfectly straight sitting posture, click here to read more on that) Ideally, you want your eye level to be close to the top of the screen.

 If you don’t have a monitor then you can use a laptop riser, with a wireless mouse and keyboard such as the one Emma is using here.

If you don’t have a monitor then you can use a laptop riser, with a wireless mouse and keyboard such as the one Emma is using here. 

If you have to be on your laptop for any longer than 15 minutes, then you really should be sitting at a desk. Typing on your bed or on a couch can potentially lead to strain on your neck and shoulders. 

2 – Take regular breaks every hour to move and stretch.

We have all heard this before and it may sound obvious to some but it is very easy to get caught up in your work and before you know it, 2 or 3 hours have passed and you haven’t moved from your chair. 

Here are some simple tips to remind you to move. You can set an alarm on your phone to go off after an hour. A lot of fit bits or smart watches will have functions that will vibrate if you haven’t moved in a while. Or a simple old fashioned way is to stick a post it not on your laptop or the wall behind with the word “MOVE” on it…..

Of course you can tailor this note and get inventive to suit your personality, such as “MOVE YOU super wonderful amazing person”…..or something along those lines.

Take a few minutes to move and stretch every hour to avoid pain and stiffness

3 –  Schedule your time

A lot of our patients in the clinic have told us that they can end up working all hours on the laptop to make up for time lost in the day due to family commitments. While it’s great to have the flexibility to take a few hours off in the day to get outside, it is not so great if you find yourself still typing at 11.30pm at night. 

Some people will say that they can work better at night but exposure to LED light and work related material is not always the best thing before going to bed. (if you have to do this then put on night time filter if you have the option)

A simple way around this is to schedule your work, the same way you would do it at the office. Write out the tasks you need to get done and what time you will do them at. If you need to do something after the kids go to bed, then schedule it in and try to finish when you have scheduled to finish. 

This will give you some time to wind, maybe do some relaxed movement, have a cup of herbal tea or have a chat to take your mind off work.

Of course to allow you to do this, you may have to schedule your most important work early in the morning if that is possible. You will have to figure it out and tailor it to suit your day.  

So there you have it. 3 practical and simple tips that you implement straight away to help keep you moving and avoid overloading your neck and shoulders. In the next blog post I will be looking at some specific movements that you can do to stretch key areas that can get overloaded when sitting at the screen all day. 

If you are struggling with some neck or shoulder pain that is not going away then reach out to us in the clinic. You can call us on 09064 66761 or message us below and we will get back to you.

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