Nowadays, most of us have to sit in front of our computers in our work areas, as well as at home. Computers or laptops have now become an integral part of our life and we cannot imagine our life without these gadgets.
However, do you know that due to working with computer in same posture for a very long time is giving rise to number of physical problems to us? Upper back pain as well as neck pain is very common among people.
In this article, we shall try to focus on the problem of neck pain from sitting for long hours and working in front of computers or laptops.
Due to our neck and also upper back problems, out movements may get restricted and also you may not feel comfortable to do any kind of other work. If you do not treat it in timely manner, then it can lead to very worse condition and can spread even further.
Usually, all the muscles around the painful areas can get tensed up and as a result, you will feel an excessive pain whenever you set to move freely.
Let us now try to know what various reasons are due to which you may develop neck pain as you sit for longer hours before a computer.
- Postural strain
In order to prevent neck pain, maintaining proper posture will be very important factor, while working with your computer. Unfortunately, by sitting in the same posture for many hours will cause significant strain in your neck, shoulders and back.
Various muscles around your neck and shoulder will get tensed and will try to contract in order to compensate with this fatigue. As a consequence, you will begin to feel painful sensation.
Therefore, while sitting before the computer to work, you must sit maximum for 20 to 30 minutes, and after that take a short break and stretch your muscles and walk for some time.
Few office chairs are so designed that it can be easily adjusted to accommodate all types of body shape.
- Make sure you are sitting in your chair fully with the low back touching your lower part of the chair back.
- Next you must ensure that your lower back curve is properly supported either by your chair’s back curve or place a small cushion or pillow.
- Your trunk must be upright with your elbows supported at natural height on your armrest.
- Your knees and hips must be bent at about 90 degrees.
- Desk setup
Also, your desk can contribute for your neck pain, in case it is not properly adjusted. The work surface height must allow you typing naturally on your computer keyboard.
If your desk is at a higher position then your shoulders will slightly elevate your wrists, forearms and hands to get appropriate level. Your neck muscles may fatigue after long time and will begin to spasm.
You may also experience headache and this can further worsen if you keep on working for longer hours.
Also, if your desk is in a very low position, then too you will be compelled to flex the trunk for using your keyboard.
By working with the trunk flexed forward will need you to extend your neck more than normal, so that you can see your computer monitor.
Usually, this position is known as forward head posture and sitting this way will shorten your suboccipital muscles at your skull base and lead to muscles spasm, headache and neck pain.
- Monitor setup
Another possible reason of neck pain because of working on computer for a long time can be improper monitor set up. You must set it slightly below your eye level for promoting neutral spine position.
Usually, all monitors come with stock stand which comes attached to screen, but few may not be adjustable too.
If the monitor is too low, then prop it on a small box or shelf to reach the correct height. The better solution will be to use separate monitor mount which connect to the back of screen with special mount.
This can allow more flexibility to set your screen distance and height from your eyes.
Same rules will apply to any traditional seating desks. If you are considering switching to standing desk converter, that have monitor arm attached then it will ensure that you have properly adjusted monitor whether you are sitting or standing.
- Improper office chair
You must also invest on proper office chair, particularly if you are mostly working in sitting position. You can get many different models of chairs in the market, and ergonomic chairs will offer most adjustment flexibility.
Your office chair must have full back which extends from your seat of chair to shoulders or above. You will get right lower back support for preventing slouching which can lead to forward head posture.
The chair arms must be able to suitably adjust with the support your elbow’s natural position, when your arms will be at both your sides.
You may like to avoid your elbows too low or too high to prevent your postural strain on the neck and also upper back muscles.
All office chairs virtually have adjustable height of the seat, but it is essential that your chair height should fit well with the desk height.
Few other chair options are tilt adjustments, seat depth, or seat height for improving the right fit of the chair and for preventing postural strain.
- Mental stress
Often stress is overlooked, but it can also be the reason for neck pain. When we are stressed, our shoulders start elevating as natural response. Such position will activate and can fatigue muscles in our neck.
There are various stress management techniques available which can help reduce our neck pain when you are working.
You can also adopt daily mindfulness meditation, which can be a great way to reduce your stress.
Few tips for avoiding your neck pain
Following are few tips to avoid such neck pain even while working with computers.
- Check your vision
If you have already crossed the age of 40, then get your eye tested and use proper glass to correct your vision.
However, irrespective of your age, it is necessary that you must get your eyes checked at regular interval to see if there is any change in your vision.
- Check the image quality of your computer screen
You must set the image quality of your computer screen and make sure:
- All images are sharp and not hazy
- Images must be stable and not flickering
- Images are bright enough so that you do not feel uncomfortable to view them
If you find anything improper then try to set your computer screen as there are various settings available in your computer.
- Avoid screen glare
Make sure that there is no bright reflection and also the screen image that you see should not appear that it has washed out. You may perhaps need to position your screen properly or dim external lights or use anti-glare filter over the screen.
- Check the distance between your eyes and screen
Make sure that the screen position is at a comfortable distance from the eyes. Avoid sitting too close to your screen and if needed, you can zoom your screen appropriately so that you can easily see and read it.
Most comfortable distance between your body and screen must be an arm’s length.
- Keep your screen at right height
Size of screen will decide at what height your screen should be placed. It is essential that your eye must be in straight line with the screen and about 2” below top of visible screen image, while you are sitting comfortably.
As per research, the best position will be 17 to 18 degree below horizontal line of sight.
- You should not twist your neck to view the screen
Often the main reason for neck pain is due to bad posture of your neck. So, ensure that you should not twist your neck in order to view your screen. So, neither your screen must be at too high position and nor too low position.
- Adjust your screen as per your eyewear
People, who wear progressive lens or bifocals lens, need to make little adjustments in their screen position.
If you try to sit back on the chair in relaxed and reclined posture after following all the above guidelines, then you can see the screen by maintaining right neck posture.
- Get document holder
While working with the paper documents, use document holder, which can position the paper for seeing comfortably. So, you may need a suitable in-line document holder which fits between your keyboard and screen.
Your document holder will be mounted at one side of your screen or use any freestanding document holder that is positioned next to the screen and at a slight angle close to you.
Neck pain is the most common problem that you may face after working with computer for longer periods. To get rid of your problem, you must identify which of the above factors is the cause of your symptoms.
Then you may make your plan of action to ensure that all your equipment can be setup properly and also modify your workflow to prevent any postural strain.