6 Reasons for Neck Pain Sitting at A Computer in 2023
Understanding the Impact of Prolonged Computer Use on Neck Health
Computers have become a regular part of everyday life, and their impact on our lives will only become more significant as we progress. So, it is highly important to understand how it can impact our health currently and in the long run, to prevent future complications. Prolonged computer use can have a detrimental effect on your physical health. While using a computer, we often lean and hunch over the keyboard, putting strain on our neck muscles. There are also other potential concerns relating to posture and eye strain that we shall explore in this blog.
Addressing the Reasons for Neck Pain While Sitting at A Computer
Since many of us spend a lot of time on the computer, whether it is for work or leisure, understanding the reasons behind neck pain will help us better prepare for any neck-related issues and prevent them.
Sitting for a long time in itself without any breaks or stretches have shown to cause postural strain and discomfort in the muscles. This is amplified further by the fact that your neck may not be aligned with the computer screen while you use it. This means that your neck is further strained, along with your back. Sitting and working at your desk for a long time, the muscles around your back can stiffen up, leading to pain. This can directly affect your neck, causing further distress.
Ergonomics plays a crucial role in preventing neck pain from computer use. Designing a workplace best suited to help you work without neck pain and maintain good posture can go a long way. Ensure that your computer and head are aligned and that your chair and desk are set up to minimize strain on your neck. You could adjust the height of your chair and the position of your keyboard and customize it based on the distance between you and your screen.
Muscle tension can have multiple contributors, like excessive physical activity, injury, or repetitive actions. However, one of the most common causes is inactivity for prolonged periods. This causes muscles to contract and feel stress, leading to muscle tension. The best way to counter this is by being as active as possible and moving when you can. This will help the muscles relax and increase blood circulation. Also, try to exercise regularly to prevent prolonged muscle stress.
Repetitive strain injuries
Strain injuries are caused by overuse, force, or stretching of muscles. Strain injuries relating to neck pain from using computers usually happen when the neck is constantly uncomfortable and is not stretched often. Over time, with repetitive strain injuries, you could contract neck pain even with minimal computer usage. While there are treatment options to deal with it, it is best advised to try and prevent it.
Lack of movement
Apart from posture issues and eye strain, sitting and working on your computer means your body is only in action for a short time. While inactivity is generally bad for health as it weakens your muscles and increases the risk of cardiovascular issues, it also has severe adverse effects on your neck since it adds to muscle tension, stress, and eye strain on top of it. Therefore, stretch your neck using basic neck exercises and move around regularly for better spinal health.
Stress is a common contributor to neck pain, and it can be exacerbated by working on the computer continuously without breaks. High-stress levels can cause tension in the neck muscles, leading to pain and discomfort. Additionally, stress can cause you to be physically and mentally tense, contributing to poor posture and added strain on the neck muscles. To reduce stress, consider relaxation methods such as meditation and breathing exercises.
Strategies for Preventing and Managing Neck Pain at the Computer
Now that we've understood why we may suffer from neck pain due to computer usage let us look at some good strategies for preventing and managing neck pain.
Maintain proper posture
Proper posture can be very effective in preventing neck pain while using a PC and in everyday life. Ensure that you check your sitting, standing, and walking posture regularly. Keep your neck and your spine, and your ear aligned with your shoulder. Also, keep your neck along the screen's height so you don't need to bend it while working.
Maintain proper ergonomics
Ensure to arrange your work area to reduce stress on the neck as much as possible. Changing the size of your chair, the position of your keyboard, and the distance between you and your screen can be significant steps toward this goal.
Take frequent breaks
Regular breaks can help you stretch out your neck and back, release muscle tension and improve blood circulation. This is useful for your physiological well-being and the best way to reduce stress, a common cause of neck pain.
Use a headset
Slotting your phone between your shoulder and neck while speaking to someone is common as we multitask daily. However, this is a bad practice as it can cause pain, tightness, and strain on the neck. Instead, try using headphones.
Try neck and shoulder exercises
Neck and shoulder exercises can be highly beneficial in ensuring your muscles are stretched, relaxed, and strengthened. You could do some common and simple exercises like chin tucks and neck extensions.
When to Seek Professional Help
Suffering from shoulder and neck pain caused by prolonged computer usage is a prevalent issue in contemporary times. That said, prolonged neck pain can have very severe consequences on your body in the long term. If you feel constant pain, strain, or swelling in your neck and cannot perform basic everyday tasks, it is best advised to visit an expert physiotherapist.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How can I adjust my workspace to prevent neck pain when using a computer?
You could adjust the size of your chair, the position of your keyboard and customize it based on the distance between you and your screen.
What causes neck pain when using a computer?
Neck pain when using a computer can be caused by poor posture, poor ergonomics, muscle tension, repetitive strain injuries, lack of movement, and stress.
How can I relieve neck pain while sitting at my desk?
You could consider the following methods:
- Maintain proper posture
- Maintain proper ergonomics
- Take frequent breaks
- Use a headset
- Try neck and shoulder exercises
Can stress and tension contributes to neck pain when sitting at a computer?
Stress and tension can cause neck pain when sitting at a computer. This is because the body becomes tense, which causes strain on your muscles.
What exercises or stretches can help prevent neck pain from computer use?
Some common exercises to prevent neck pain from computer use include chin tuck, neck extension, double chin neck stretch, thoracic extension, downward facing dog, and more.