Your Cart

How to Stop Neck Pain at Long Hours of Work

Neck pain is a common problem for many office workers. Sitting at a desk for hours on end, often with poor posture, can put a lot of strain on the neck. This frequently leads to stiff, sore, and aching neck muscles. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and relieve neck discomfort during the workday.

Be Aware of Your Posture

One of the main culprits behind neck pain at work is poor posture. When you slouch or hunch over a computer for extended periods, you put extra pressure on the neck muscles to support the weight of the head. This can lead to muscle tightness, spasms, and pain. Make an effort to maintain proper posture whenever sitting at your desk.

Sit up straight with your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned vertically. Avoid jutting your head forward toward the computer screen. Position the screen at eye level to avoid craning your neck down or looking up. If you’re working from papers, place them up on stands or utilize a document holder placed between the screen and keyboard. Keeping your body aligned reduces strain on the neck.

Take Regular Breaks

Sitting motionless for hours on end can make neck muscles stiff and sore. Get up and move around periodically to relieve muscle tension. Set a timer or reminder app on your computer or phone to alert you to take a break every 30-60 minutes. Simply standing up and walking around the office for a few minutes can get blood flowing and loosen up tight neck muscles.

Do some gentle neck stretches and rotations to address tension. For example, slowly tilt your head to each side until you feel a slight stretch. Gently roll your shoulders or tilt your head forward and back. Just moving your neck in different directions helps relieve stiffness. Avoid making sudden, jerky neck movements during stretches though as this could strain the muscles.

Adjust Your Workstation

An ergonomic workstation setup is crucial for avoiding neck discomfort. Take time to properly adjust your chair height, computer screen position, keyboard location, and other components. Your eyes should be level with the top 1/3rd of the monitor. Forearms should be parallel to the floor when typing. Thighs should be fully supported by the chair when seated upright. Having to hunch down or craning up frequently is a red flag your workstation needs adjustment.

Invest in an ergonomic chair that provides good neck support. Chairs with built-in neck rests help maintain the natural curve of the cervical spine when seated. Placing a small pillow or lumbar support behind your neck can also help you avoid slouching into a hunched position. Position your computer screen directly in front of you instead of off to one side to prevent neck strain from twisting. Setting up your workstation properly reduces unnecessary strain on the neck.

Apply Heat or Ice

The use of heat or ice packs can help relieve painful, stiff neck muscles. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to the sore neck area for 10-15 minutes to help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. For chronic stiffness not related to an injury, apply moist heat packs or take a warm shower to boost blood flow and loosen tight muscles. Use caution not to fall asleep with hot packs to avoid burns. Alternating heat and ice therapy typically works best to ease neck discomfort at the office.

Perform Neck Strengthening Exercises

Simple neck strengthening exercises can be done right at your desk when you have a spare minute. Isometric exercises involve tensing neck muscles without moving the neck itself. For example, place your palm under your forehead and apply light pressure as you attempt to push your head forward into your hand. Hold for 5 seconds then release and repeat. This strengthens the neck flexor muscles. Do this using your hand on the back of your head to work the neck extensor muscles as well.

Focus on keeping shoulders relaxed as you do these isometric contractions. Avoid overexerting the neck with quick or forceful movements. Start with just a few reps and work up gradually to avoid muscle strains. Stronger neck muscles are less prone to discomfort and fatigue.

Check Your Posture Outside Work

Slouching and poor posture when working at a computer all day can carry over into your posture outside of work as well. Be mindful of neck strain from looking down at phones, tablets, and laptops, especially when using these devices right before bed. Avoid falling asleep in awkward positions that hyperextend the neck. Use proper posture not just at the office but throughout the day to prevent neck discomfort.

When to Seek Help

For minor stiffness or soreness, the above measures can usually provide pain relief. However, if you experience persistent or worsening neck pain along with symptoms like tingling, numbness in the arms or hands, and reduced range of motion, see your doctor. These may be signs of a more serious underlying condition like a herniated disc or cervical spine arthritis. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important to determine appropriate treatment.

Neck discomfort is common among office professionals but often preventable. By practicing neck-friendly ergonomics, taking frequent breaks, and doing simple stretches and exercises, you can stop neck pain from ruining your workday comfort. Paying attention to proper posture and workstation setup makes a big difference. Implement these tips to keep your neck feeling good even when stuck at a desk all day.