Have you found yourself getting tight and painful around your neck and shoulders when sat at your desk? Don’t worry you are not alone; research shows neck and shoulder pain can be very common in desk-based workers. Here’s 5 tips to help you combat this pain.
The aches and pains you get whilst working at your desk can be caused by many things such as sedentary behaviour, stress, workload and working positions. There will be no single cause. Whilst the medical world may label the pain as non-specific it’s actually very specific to you as a person.
Challenge yourself to move more during your working day, break up periods of sitting with movement that challenges your muscles in different ways. Squat from your chair, go for a walk, use the stairs, complete tricep dips from your seat. The research suggests being active outside of work on its own may not be enough to limit the effects of being sedentary in the day, this makes moving in the day even more important.
Challenge your colleagues, having support from our peers will help, office challenges such as step counts, press ups, squats, may help with motivation and make moving more fun.
Challenge the office culture, could you suggest going for a walk at lunch times or how about introducing walking meetings to the office? Work towards a less sedentary working day by involving the workforce and being creative.
Research has shown that resistance exercises for the upper body can reduce neck and shoulder pain in desk-based workers. In one study, they performed 2 minutes of intense upper body exercises using resistance bands every day for 10 weeks. In doing this they not only achieved a reduction in pain but also had more frequent episodes of reduced tension in some of their neck muscles.
Resistance bands can be useful because they fit in your pocket and can be used to perform lots of different exercises. You can however use things like hand weights, it may be helpful to keep these at your desk.
Make sure your workstation is set up so that you feel comfortable and relaxed in your neck and shoulders. Your neck is designed to move in lots of different ways but holding your neck in any one position for a prolonged period is likely to be problematic. If we were to do this in a more extreme position the likely hood is that our pain would come on sooner. Therefore, it is sensible to have your workstation set up in a more neutral position that allows you to feel comfortable and relaxed.
Standing desks are becoming more and more popular within the workplace, however sedentary behaviour as opposed to sitting is the real problem. If you have the option of moving between sitting and standing it can add variation and some movement to your day but will not protect against you being sedentary. You still need to try and find ways to move more.
You may find practicing things like mindfulness useful; it may help you switch off from the stresses of work and allow you to relax your neck and shoulders. Click here to read our blog on mindfulness.
If you neck pain does not seem to be related to when you are sat at your desk or you develop other symptoms such as, pain into your arms, numbness, pins and needles or vision, swallow or speech problems then seeking medical opinion is important.