As our world whirs forward and technology continues to advance in new and exciting ways, it’s inevitable that more of our workforce spend a heavy amount of time in front of a computer. Add in our connected smartphones to keep track of social media, news, and even work email, and we’re looking at a serious amount of hours spent tethered to technology. While much of this is exciting and continually opens new doors of opportunity, there’s another aspect of it that isn’t the greatest for our health: the impact of poor ergonomics on our neck health.
The truth is that neck pain is pretty common. Largely, neck pain occurs based on poor ergonomics or a lack of an everyday environment designed to support good posture and mechanics. Think about the last time you spent hours in front of a computer; when you finally stepped away, did it take your body a moment to readjust?
When we repeatedly, day in and day out, work under conditions that compromise our posture and put a strain on our upper back and neck, it's bound to catch up with us. The good news is that with some self-awareness and simple, proactive measures, you have the power to regain control of your postural health – including the prevention of neck pain.
The Root Of Most Neck Pain
When the head spends a prolonged amount of time in a downward position, like at a desk, it’s easy to develop a slew of negative conditions if you’re not careful. These can include muscle strains, chronic poor posture, nerve damage injury, disc herniation, chronic headaches, neck and back pain, and more.
Working on a computer all day or spending an inordinate amount of time on their phones is far from uncommon. Yet, the downward tilt that our heads adopt as a result of these conditions could begin to wreak havoc if not nipped in the bud. What many people fail to realize is the added strain that tilting our head forward puts on our spine— the further our head tilts forward, the more drastic the effect. An average adult head weighs about 10-15 pounds, but the degree to which we tilt it forward can exponentially increase this number. In fact, when your head is at a 60-degree tilt, a common position during phone usage, you’re putting up to 60 pounds of force through your neck. Now, consider that force repeated on a daily basis, over the years. Nagging neck pain doesn’t seem like such a mystery now, does it?
Preventing Neck Pain Before It Begins
The good news is that neck pain is largely preventable. However, it does require a change of habits and a keen level of awareness to do so; these prevention techniques only work when used consistently over time.
Practice Good Posture
We say “practice” good posture because that’s often what it takes - repetition and practice! Slouching with sloppy posture is easy to fall into, especially when we’re tired after a long day. Strong posture, with our shoulders back and down, on the other hand, helps keep our body aligned and supported. If you’re looking for a simple cue: make sure your shoulders are in a straight line above your hips, and your ears are in a straight line above your shoulders. Lightly engaging your core muscles will help you hold this correct posture as well.
Work In Scheduled Breaks
We understand that you can’t quit your job just because of neck health. If you do find yourself in a job or a common situation that puts a continual strain on your neck, you can help alleviate some of the negative effects by taking small breaks. Just as you need a short rest period between sets and repetitions when working out at the gym, your body also needs a break from sitting in stationary positions.
While you may not feel the strain on your neck building in intensity on the same timeline as a circuit workout, your body still needs the breaks to continue to perform optimally over time, and without injury. Work in small, frequent walking breaks; let yourself step away from the environment of strain, and do some light neck stretching while you’re at it. A few basic side-to-side and forward-and-back movements can provide real relief while helping to offset some of the forward-neck strain. Keep in mind these breaks need not be long! To help get yourself in a good rhythm, try setting alerts throughout the day as reminders for a quick neck-stretch.
Check Yourself: Do A Home Audit
Are you already experiencing the strain of neck pain? The culprit could be right in front of your eyes. If you spend a good amount of time behind a desk, take a deeper look at your working station. Is your computer below eye level? Does your chair support your back? When you take calls – do you prop the phone between your ear and shoulder? How much time do you spend looking at your smartphone daily?
While each of these details may seem small at the moment, the reality is that they can all compound over time, causing damage to your neck. Relatively small adjustments, like raising your computer monitor to eye level, and using a headset or speakerphone when taking calls, can actually make a big difference in the long-term repercussions on your neck.
How Chiropractic Can Help With Neck Health
Another great way to care for your neck and posture is by working consistent chiropractic care into your routine. The adjustments of the spine and extremities provided in chiropractic appointments help to realign common misalignments that happen as a result of everyday life– particularly in the neck and upper back regions. When the spine is aligned, inflammation and pressure in the body decrease, allowing your entire system to function better.
We understand that right now is a particularly uncharacteristic time when it comes to booking appointments. Know that our office is taking all of the necessary precautions that we can, closely adhering to CDC guidelines for COVID-19, so that we can continue to provide the best care possible to our patients.
Chiropractic care has also been deemed an essential service by our government, recognizing the role chiropractic plays in managing stress, acute and urgent musculoskeletal conditions. A vital part of our healthcare system, chiropractic offices practices safe and sanitary procedures, always keeping the health and welfare of our patients top of mind. Patients undergoing treatment programs as well as those feeling the strain of our current environment are encouraged to seek care to maintain good health and ongoing wellness.
Schedule an appointment online or call (949) 649-8790.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.