If you worked in an office before the pandemic but have now transitioned to working either partially or fully from home, you’re not alone. According to a McKinsey research study, in 2022 58% of Americans now have the opportunity to work from home a minimum of one day a week, and thirty-five percent are able to work from home five days a week.
If you are one of the many people who have transitioned from an office environment to working from home, you may be finding it’s become a pain in the neck. Literally.
Working from home has changed the ergonomics (the science of making your work environment safe, comfortable and efficient) of where and how we work. When you were at the office, you were likely spending most of your day:
- Using a desk that you were able to optimize to the right height,
- Sitting in a chair with proper support,
- Using a computer monitor positioned for optimal height viewing.
If you’re like many people, the transition to working from home also impacted your work set-up and the ergonomics of how you work. Not everyone has access to an ideal workspace, or the type of desk, chair or monitor set-up they enjoyed in the office. As a result, many people are now:
- Working from the kitchen table, couch, recliner, or even bed instead of sitting in a chair with proper support,
- Working on a laptop which may be used from many angles and positions throughout the day, instead of viewing a proper height monitor on a desk.
When you work primarily on a laptop, your viewing angle changes as you bend your neck to look down more often than you would if sitting at a desk with a monitor. This can lead to a phenomenon called “tech neck”, which was originally coined to describe the neck and shoulder pain that results from looking down to view your smartphone or tablet.
When you work on a laptop, the muscles at the back of your neck need to contract in order to hold your head up. The longer you spend looking down, the harder these muscles have to work. The result is “tech neck”, which can manifest with any of the following symptoms:
- Stiff neck and neck spasms
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Discomfort when looking up
If “tech neck” goes on too long, it could cause more serious problems, including:
- A pinched nerve, causing numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms,
- Increased pressure on the discs in your spine, causing them to wear out faster, rupture or bulge.
So what can you do prevent “tech neck” when working remotely?
You may not be able to completely recreate your office set-up when working remotely, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prevent muscle strains and pain. Here are some of the easiest ways to prevent “tech neck” when working from home:
- Get up and walk around every 15 to 30 minutes. This will put your neck in a different position and get the blood flowing.
- Invest in a chair that has both good lumbar support and the ability to recline. Leaning back while working takes the pressure off your neck muscles.
- Explore ways to work standing up, at least some of the time. This may mean purchasing a standing desk.
- Do regular aerobic exercise, aiming for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times per week. Aerobic exercise helps by increasing blood flow which in turn can prevent inflammation and pain.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you’re experiencing symptoms of neck pain, schedule your appointment with Cianci Chiropractic today.