Neck pain is common for people who spend extended periods of time sitting in front of a computer screen. Some of this neck pain probably exists as the result of improperly set up workstations. This includes everything from chairs that do not allow the spine to hold its natural shape to desks that are the wrong height. However, a lot of neck pain caused by computer screens is the result of poor posture. In the medical community, this is called Forward Head Posture. Forward Head Posture is just what it sounds like and is becoming more common as the number of people working in front of computer screens increases.
Neck Pain and Forward Head Posture
Ideally, your skull should balance in the perfect position above your spine. The human skull and brain make up approximately 20% of a person’s weight. Which is a lot of weight to have sitting on top of the smallest vertebra in your spine. With Forward Head Posture, the head extends forward and puts strain on the cervical spine and muscles of the neck. This can cause tension and pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Over time, you may even experience numbness or tingling in the arms and a burning sensation between the shoulder blades. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to help you get rid of the neck pain that comes as a result of your computer screen.
Neck Pain Solution #1: Adjust Your Posture
The neck pain that you are experiencing as a result of your back pain may simply be because you are not sitting properly at your desk. For example, If you have tight hip flexors you will probably experience rounding in your low back. This will cause your shoulders to slump forward and will push your chin out towards your computer screen. Freeing up your hip flexors will allow your spine to assume its natural shape. As a result, you will be able to comfortably sit upright with your head in the proper position.
Neck Pain Solution #2: Adjust Your Screen
To prevent Forward Head Posture, adjust your screen so that it is eye level. This will allow you to sit back and see your computer screen clearly. Make sure your screen is far enough away that you can see the whole screen in your view. If you find you struggle to read the words on your computer screen, play around with making the font larger.
Neck Pain Solution #3: Give Your Neck a Stretch
If your neck pain has been ongoing, you may find stretching helps to relieve tension. Remember to be gentle when stretching out the muscles of your neck. Your cervical vertebra are very mobile which makes the neck more susceptible to strain. It is also best to avoid dropping your head right back as this can put too much pressure on the vertebra of the neck. Compression of the cervical spine can lead to pinched nerves and disc herniation.
Side Neck Stretch
- Looking straight forward, drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Only go so far that you feel a gentle stretch in the side of your neck.
- To deepen the stretch, place one hand on the head and let the weight of the arm do the work. DO NOT pull on the head.
- Repeat on the other side.
Back Neck Stretch
- Drop your chin to your chest until you feel a gentle stretch and drop your shoulders away from your ears.
- To deepen the stretch, interlace your fingers over the back of your head and let the weight of the arm do the work. DO NOT pull on the head.
- Take deep breaths into your upper back.
- Drop your chin to your chest until you feel a stretch in the back of the neck.
- Roll your chin across your chest towards one shoulder.
- Roll your chin back across your chest towards the other shoulder.
- Repeat as many times as you need to. DO NOT roll the head backwards and compress the back of the neck.
Neck Pain Solution #4: Program Reminders
If you tend to forget your posture when you are at the office all day, consider putting reminders into your calendar. Set them for every 30 minutes so that you remember to adjust your posture and position of your head accordingly.
Neck Pain and Stress
Sometimes neck pain can be a result of mental stress. If you think this might be the reason you are experiencing pain in your neck, try incorporating meditation into your day. There are plenty of guided meditation apps to help you do this. Less neck pain means a more enjoyable and productive workday. So it is worth taking the time to figure out if your computer—or something else—is causing you unnecessary pain.