How to Treat Stiff Neck at the Office?

A stiff neck can be an annoying and even painful nuisance when you’re trying to get work done at the office. Sitting at your desk for hours on end, often hunched over a computer, can cause neck stiffness and pain. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help relieve and prevent a stiff neck at work.

Do Neck Stretches

One of the best ways to keep your neck limber and prevent stiffness is to do periodic neck stretches right at your desk. Start by slowly rolling your neck in a circle, gradually moving it clockwise then counterclockwise. Do a set of 5-10 rolls in each direction. Next, look down at your lap, bringing your chin to your chest. Hold for a count of 10. Then look up towards the ceiling, tilting your head back. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this looking up and down 2-3 times. Finally, turn your head side to side, bringing your ear down towards each shoulder. Do 5-10 repetitions on each side. Take just 5 minutes every hour or two to go through these simple neck stretches.

Adjust Your Posture

Poor posture is one of the main culprits of neck stiffness when sitting at your office desk all day. Try to adjust your chair, computer screen, keyboard and other equipment so you aren’t constantly craning your neck forward or down. Your eyes should be level with the top 1/3 of your monitor screen. Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest and your back supported against your desk chair. Avoid hunching over by bringing items closer or using a document holder positioned between your screen and keyboard. Make small adjustments and be conscious of your posture throughout the day.

Use Neck Massagers

For quick relief of a stiff neck at the office, try using portable neck massagers that you can keep in your desk. Choices like shiatsu neck massagers or percussion neck massagers provide soothing vibrations to loosen up tight muscles. A neck wrap massager that uses heat can also relax muscle tension; just be sure your office environment allows the use of heating devices. Use these devices for 5-15 minutes as needed to get relief from neck stiffness without having to leave your desk. Turn on some relaxing music and let the massager work out those kinks.

Try Topical Analgesics

Over-the-counter topical pain relievers can provide cooling or warming sensations to help temporarily alleviate neck aches. Menthol, eucalyptus, turmeric and capsicum creams work as natural analgesics when applied to stiff neck muscles. Roll-on stick versions are convenient to keep in your office drawer for quick relief. Or look for patches containing ingredients like lidocaine that numb muscle aches. Apply these as directed to tight neck areas when you start feeling tension or strain. The numbness or cooling sensation can make your neck discomfort more bearable as you get through the workday.

Improve Workstation Ergonomics

Look at making ergonomic improvements to your entire office workstation setup to promote better posture and help avoid neck stiffness. Your computer monitor should be an arm’s length away at eye level, and your wrists should be in a neutral position while typing. Sit with your back firmly against your chair and feet flat. Consider using a laptop riser and external keyboard to properly align your screen, keyboard and arms. Invest in an ergonomic desk chair that provides good lumbar support. And be sure to get up and move around for a few minutes periodically to give your neck a break from constant sitting.

Use Caution with OTC Pain Relievers

For moderate relief of stiff neck discomfort, over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs can be beneficial when used properly. However, use them in moderation and strictly according to package directions. Avoid exceeding daily dosage limits which can lead to side effects or health complications. Check with your doctor before using any new medication, and notify them of any other medications or supplements you take to prevent unsafe interactions. Don’t rely solely on OTC meds; combine with proactive solutions like stretching, posture fixes and massagers.

A stiff neck can put a real kink in your office workday productivity and comfort. By taking measures to stretch, adjust your posture, use massage devices and make ergonomic changes, you can help treat and prevent neck stiffness without having to take time away from your desk. Pay attention to your neck positioning and take steps to relieve tension quickly to keep your neck feeling better while on the job.