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July 04, 2021 5 min read

Despite being emphasized again and again the effects of bad posture, you may still keep on slouching! You’re too busy with your desk jobs and haven’t realized how long it has been since you assume an awkward posture until you started feeling pain in the neck up to your shoulders. You started feeling stiff but you keep on going until it becomes chronic and difficult to manage. Now, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many are forced to work remotely from home and have to deal with the new working environment, where most are assumed to be working while on bed or couch and maybe even sitting directly on the mat with their laptops also on the floor and completely unaware that even the way they position and stare at their laptops can hurt their necks and shoulders and cause pain.

Due to prolonged, repetitive, or awkward posture and movements, neck and shoulder aches and pains are common in the workplace, such as the term tech neck, text neck, tension neck syndrome, and repetitive strain injury (RSI). These conditions are becoming increasingly prevalent since many employees are now working with computers and using phones more frequently throughout the day. A tech neck, as the term implies, refers to a condition that results from excessive use of gadgets and computers which can stress the muscles that support the neck and related structures resulting in neck pain. A similar condition can happen when you’re hunched over looking at your cellular phones and other devices for hours, which can extremely load the spine — termed text neck. Tension neck syndrome is pain and stiffness in the neck with associated tenderness in the trapezius muscle. All of these conditions are collectively described as repetitive strain injury (RSI), also known as work-related upper limb disorder or non-specific upper limb pain, and is a general term used to refer to the pain felt in the muscles, nerves, and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse, as well as faulty or prolonged restricted posture.

3 Common Faulty Postural Practices At Work That Can Lead To Neck And Shoulder Pain

Sitting in a bad posture while working on a computer or when using a mobile

Too much time in front of the computer or looking at your cellphone can strain your muscles in the neck and shoulders, and you’re most likely to assume a forward-head posture with a rounded upper back and shoulders. This doesn’t look good as it shifts your center of gravity more forward, which means your neck, back, and shoulder muscles need to work a little bit more to keep your head and upper back at an optimal position because if they don’t, they’ll get strained and cause you neck pain. Remember, “every inch your ten-pound head extends in front increases the load and stresses on your neck and shoulders by ten pounds!”

Fix:Keep your shoulders relaxed and pulled up and back, your chest out and open, and your head level with your ears in line with your shoulders. The following may help improve your sitting ergonomics while sitting at your desk:

  • Sit with proper lower back support.
  • Keep your upper back against the backrest of the chair.
  • Keep your seat height so that your thighs are level with the floor, your wrist level with the keyboard when typing, and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.

Staring at a computer that’s too high or too low…

Setting the computer screen way high or too low can place excessive load on the neck, upper back, and shoulders. On average, our head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in sitting or standing and can go up as high as 27 to 40 pounds as we bend our neck further more forward. This means that the more forward flexed our head is, the more load we’re placing around our neck, spine, and shoulders. Our muscles are constantly working harder than they should keep our head in a neutral position when posture is off and this can lead to muscle strains, spasms, and even the development of trigger points or the notorious “muscle knots.” The same goes when we tilt our head back when the monitor is placed too high. By doing so, we may compress the spinal discs at the level of the neck and upper body, resulting in the tightening of the muscles in the neck, upper shoulders, and between or beneath the shoulder blades to bear its weight.
 
Fix:Set up your computer screen such that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor which is placed an arm-length away from you. If you’re using a laptop, position your laptop and keyboard on a raised surface, much like a desktop, to prevent you from constantly looking down.

Moving less frequently than you should while on your desk space from being too succumb on your work…

It’s just easy to get stuck and restricted at our workspace writing reports, answering phone calls, and handling other business online until you realize that hours have gone by and you haven’t moved all day! Staying in a fixed position for too long a time can lead to injury and pain.
Fix:Have time for rest breaks and do some neck, upper back, and shoulder stretches throughout the day. You may follow these stretches:

  1. Neck range of motion exercises – move your neck in different directions by looking up and down, bending towards each side, and twisting to each side. Hold each position with a gentle stretch for 15 seconds.
  2. Shoulder range of motions and stretches – shoulder shrugs and circles moving up and back for 15 repetitions; with one arm up above shoulder level, try to reach the opposite shoulder blade with your hand. Feel a gentle stretch and hold for 15 seconds.
  3. Chin tucks – while sitting, look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders. Pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. Hold for 6 seconds before bringing the chin forward back to starting position.
  4. Pec (chest) stretch with hands behind head – clasped both hands together behind the head, then bring the elbows back as far as possible, keeping a straight spine while squeezing both shoulder blades together. Hold for 6 seconds.
  5. Pec (chest) stretch with arms behind back – clasped both hands together behind the back, then follow the procedure as #4.

Credits:

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