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.
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. So 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.
So how has working from home changed the way we work? When you were at the office, you were likely working more ergonomically (the science of making your work environment safe, comfortable and efficient) because you were spending most of your day:
- Sitting at a desk that you were able to optimize to the right height,
- Using a chair with proper lumbar support and the ability to recline,
- Viewing a computer monitor positioned at the optimal height.
But if you’re likely many people, when you transitioned to working from home, it also impacted your work set-up and the ergonomics of how you work. After all, 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 many different locations ranging from the kitchen table, couch, recliner, or even the bed instead of sitting in a chair with proper support,
- 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, you’re much more prone to getting “tech neck”, which is a term originally coined to describe the neck and shoulder pain that results from looking down to view your smartphone or tablet. By using a laptop instead of a desk monitor, your viewing angle changes as you bend your neck to look down more often.
Working on a laptop, especially when sitting on a couch or in bed, can cause 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 cause 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.
How can you prevent “tech neck” when working from home?
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:
- Purchase a chair that has both good lumbar support and the ability to recline. Leaning back while working takes the pressure off your neck muscles.
- Investigate options to work standing up, at least some of the time. This may mean purchasing a standing desk.
- Stand up and walk around every 15 to 30 minutes. This will put your neck in a different position and get the blood flowing.
- 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.
Reach Out to Us
All of the doctors at South Orange Chiropractic are dedicated to helping you get to the root cause of your neck pain. Reach out today to book your appointment. Let’s get you back to feeling good again.