Currently, 12.7% of Americans work from home full-time, and about 28% follow a hybrid schedule. Looking ahead, an estimated 32 million Americans will work remotely by the year 2025.
While the transition from the office to your home has brought about its fair share of conveniences, it also brings challenges. One of the most common complaints? A literal pain in the neck.
If you find yourself constantly battling neck discomfort while working from home, you're not alone. But fear not: Dr. John Regan and the team at Spine Group Beverly Hills are here to share eight practical steps you can take to alleviate this pain and create a more ergonomic workspace.
1. Elevate your computer screen
Your computer screen's position could be a major contributor to your neck strain. Make sure your screen is at eye level, so you don't have to constantly tilt your head up or down. You might need to invest in a laptop stand or adjust your monitor's height to achieve the optimal setup. A properly aligned screen can do wonders to prevent neck pain.
For hybrid workers, these tips apply to your computer at the office too.
2. Invest in a supportive chair
Your choice of seating has a significant impact on your posture. Opt for a chair that provides proper lumbar support and encourages you to sit upright. A good chair reduces the tendency to hunch over, which can lead to neck and back pain over time. Remember, comfort doesn't have to be sacrificed for style.
3. Design your workspace thoughtfully
Your workspace layout matters more than you might think. Arrange your keyboard and mouse so your arms can rest comfortably and your shoulders remain relaxed. Keep frequently used items within arm's reach to avoid unnecessary twisting and straining. By setting up your workspace with intention, you minimize strain on your neck muscles.
4. Take breaks and stretch
Long hours in front of the computer can lead to muscle stiffness. Muscle stiffness in your neck and shoulders can lead to pain as well as headaches. Make it a habit to take short breaks throughout your workday. During these breaks, incorporate gentle neck stretches to release tension.
5. Use visualization to improve your posture
It's easy to slip into poor posture habits when you're engrossed in your work, but a simple visualization trick can help you keep good posture. Imagine a string pulling the top of your head towards the ceiling. This trick helps you elongate your neck and maintain proper posture.
Tip: Set a one-hour timer to assess your posture each hour. When your timer goes off, you might as well stretch too.
6. Try a standing desk
A standing desk can be a game-changer, and your neck and your legs benefit the most. Standing while working not only reduces the strain on your neck but also helps with blood circulation in your legs. Standing desks even help boost your energy levels!
If a standing desk isn't feasible, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Take regular breaks to stretch and move around to get the blood flowing.
7. Avoid tech neck
Working at home has many advantages such as working from your couch. However, working in unconventional spots can mean that you’re straining your head forward to read emails on your phone.
Even using your laptop on the couch can spell disaster for your neck. Known as tech neck, this position (leaning your neck forward all of the time) can add up to 60 pounds of force to your neck. Ouch!
To avoid tech neck, hold your smartphone at eye level, place your laptop on a desk (not your lap), and stretch regularly.
8. Don’t ignore lingering pain
If your neck pain persists even after you adopt a better posture at your desk, don’t ignore it. In some cases, underlying conditions are the source of your neck pain, and poor posture at work is just exacerbating it.
When you arrive at Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. Regan conducts a comprehensive exam and provides personalized advice based on your specific situation. Depending on the cause of your neck pain, your potential treatments may include:
- Physical therapy
- Hot and cold therapy
- Steroid injections
- Numbing injections
- Surgery to address nerve compression or ruptured discs
The bottom line is that working from home doesn't have to mean you’re stuck with neck pain. With a few adjustments, you can create an ergonomic-friendly workspace, and if that’s not enough, we’re just a call or click away. You can reach our Beverly Hills, California, office at 424-238-3281 or through our online form.