How Poor Sitting Posture Due To Bad Desk Setup Causes Neck Pain And Headache
Imagine this: Your desk and chair are too low, and your computer screen stands too far away from you.
What happens is that you will lean forward to be able to read whats on your screen. Your head is now in front of your body, and gravity is pulling your head towards the ground.
To withstand the force of gravity, your neck muscles pull your head up so you can keep looking forward. But since your head is massive, this increases the tension in these neck muscles.
The headache can also be a result of the joints in your neck, causing a cervicogenic headache. You typically feel this headache at the back of your head.
On a laptop, its even worse. Now youre also looking down, which increases the tension on your neck muscles.
When you dont have armrests or armrests at the wrong height, a bad desk setup can also cause shoulder pain. When your arms cant rest properly, your arm pulls at your shoulder muscles the entire time. I can cause rotator cuff problems and even shoulder impingement.
Finally, a poor desk setup can also cause back pain.
Monitor Setup For Neck Pain Relief
Your computer monitor is another possible cause of neck pain when you work at the computer for long periods. It should be set at or slightly below eye level to promote a neutral spine position for your neck. All monitors include a stock stand that comes attached to the screen, but many are not adjustable.
How-To Create A Better Monitor Setup
For a monitor that is too short, prop it on a small shelf or box to reach to correct height. A better solution is to use a separate monitor mount that can connect to the back of the screen with a special mount. This usually allows for significantly more flexibility in setting the screen height and distance from your eyes.
The same rules apply to traditional sitting desks or standing desks. If youre considering switching to a standing desk converter, some models have a monitor arm already attached. This ensures that you have monitor properly adjusted whether youre standing or sitting.
How To Stop Your Computer From Hurting Your Shoulders
Being a full-time writer is wonderful in so many ways.
You can set your own hours, use your imagination daily, and you dont have to answer to anyone but yourself.
But there are some downsides, too. I keep thinking, for example, that Ive adapted my working space, tools, and habits to avoid pain, but then a new pain inevitably shows up.
Ive written about many of these issues beforeincluding back pain, neck pain, heel pain, eyestrain, and more . A new one thats been hitting me lately, though, and that has been particularly stubborn, is shoulder pain.
In my search for a solution, I found some very interesting things that I wanted to pass on to you, as I have a feeling that a lot of folksparticularly those who have jumped on the standing desk bandwagonmay be suffering from shoulder pain, too.
In fact, Id go so far as to say that if you have a standing desk right noweven if you stand for only part of the dayyou need to make some changes or youll soon be suffering from shoulder pain, if youre not already.
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Desk Set Up Tip #: Laptop
If you are using a laptop on a regular basis a separate keyboard is a must.
With laptop work you cannot have both the screen and keyboard in the right position at the same time. If the screen is at eye level, you will have to hike the shoulders to bring your arms to the keyboard. If you put the keyboard at the right level, you will be cranking your neck to look down.
Place your laptop on a monitor stand so the screen is at eye level and use your seperate keyboard at elbow height, or slightly below. This will minimise the stress on the neck, shoulders and arms. If you dont want to contend with more wires, wireless keyboards are also available.
Exercises To Help Counteract Computer
Fortunately, there are a number of stretches you can do to help relieve computer-related shoulder pain. Ive got a few listed here.
How do you deal with computer-related shoulder strain?
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How To Sit At Your Desk To Avoid Shoulder Pain
The same rules for ergonomics and posture apply here, with one additional caveat: remove the armrests on your chair. In most cases, chair armrests hike the shoulders up.
This may feel comfortable at first, but it can lead to problems and shoulder pain in the future. If your desk, chair, and screen are at the proper height and your feet are solidly planted on the floor, you wont even miss them.
The Best Accessories For Reducing Wrist Pain At Work
If you have already been diagnosed with carpal tunnel system, most likely you have a brace and instructions to use it. Use it! This can go a long way to preventing further injury and helping your wrist heal.
Use padded wrist supports and keep your mouse at the same level as your keyboard for the most comfortable use. Talk to your doctor for additional support.
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Take Breaks From Sitting
Getting up and moving during the workday can improve back health. Plus, it has the added bonus of creating a sense of well-being and increasing productivity. Try to take a 5-10 minute break from your sitting at your desk every hour. You can simply stand up, go for a small walk, or try a little stretching. Set an alarm if you need a reminder to get up and move periodically.
How You Use Your Mouse Could Cause Computer
Computer-related shoulder pain can be caused by a number of things. The first thing one finds when researching the issue is that it can come about from using a computer mouse without the proper arm support.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational and Health Safety says that we use our mice three times as often as we use our keyboards. The more we use them, the more the small muscles in the hand and fingers become strained. Other muscles in the shoulder and shoulder blade tense up, trying to compensate. Over time, this leads to painthe result of a standard repetitive stress injury.
Common symptoms include pain in the shoulder, pain that radiates down the arms into the hands, tightness and pain in the upper back and shoulder blades, numbness and tingling in the fingers and hands, and pain in the wrist. If youre feeling pain more on one side than the other, this may be why.
To solve the issue, doctors recommend:
- placing the mouse close by where you dont have to reach for itas close to your body as you can,
- adjusting the arm rests on your chair so they support your arm,
- and taking regular breaks, during which you make sure you let your arm and hand hang down.
During your break, it also helps to get your shoulders moving. Do some shrugs, arm circles, and shoulder circles.
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Most Likely Youre Positioning Your Keyboard Incorrectly
The other problem for most people at a standing desk is the position of their keyboards.
Most put them at a 90-degree anglelike theyre told to do when sittingbut for standing, that spells disaster. Your back and shoulder muscles have to work extra hard to keep your arms in this positionharder than they do when youre sitting.
Theres a great article over at QuittingSitting.com that explains why this is, and has some good diagrams showing that a better position when youre standing is to angle the arms down quite a bit more, and work with the elbows more open. I tried this, and it helped a lot.
They also recommend a negative-tilt keyboardtilting the keyboard away from youwhich again, helps relieve the angle in your arms.
So when youre standing, remember to stand up straight, take frequent breaks during which you move and stretch your shoulders, position your keyboard down and forward, and if you can, get some arm support. With standing desks, though, this last tip can be difficult.
In fact, I was unable to find any standing-desk arm supports in my research. If you know of some, please include them in the comments below!
Work And Shoulder Pain
When you think of shoulder pain at work, you may think of physically demanding jobs like construction. Indeed, lifting heavy objects repeatedly overhead may cause shoulder pain or injury over time. But office work, too, can also be the culprit.
Most of us spend hours each day glued to our computer screens, for both work and play. The problem is, sitting or standing incorrectly and for hours on end may be causing your shoulder issues.
Here are some pointers that may help reduce or prevent your shoulder pain at work:
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Standing Desks Can Cause Shoulder Pain
The previous two thingsposture and the positioning of your mousecan cause shoulder pain, and have caused pain in computer users for years. But today, we have a new source of shoulder painstanding desks.
Many writers and other professionals are using standing desks now, and thats a good thing, as long as you dont stand at them all day long. Standing for a while and then sitting for a while can be much better for your lower back, hips, and overall fitness than sitting all day long.
Unfortunately, after using these things for a few years, we now know that they arent perfect and that standing desks can cause pain, too. I talked about how they can cause you to develop heel pain in a previous post.
Well, guess what? Standing desks can cause shoulder pain, too. One of these days, someones going to invent the perfect writing position and supportive furniture, but Im afraid thats going to take awhile.
Part of the problem with standing is posture. Most of us arent used to standing up straight, particularly since were using gadgets like smartphones and tablets all the time that bring our heads forward and down, and our shoulders around.
Even if you start out with good posture, as you get tired later in the day, that posture is likely to deteriorate. Particularly if youve spent years writing while sitting and then you switch to standing, your core and glute muscles are likely to be weak, and they wont support you in this new position like they should.
Reducing Or Preventing Shoulder Pain In The Workplace
Sit or stand in a natural position. Whether you sit or stand in front of your computer, your body should be in a natural and relaxed position. This means keeping your desk even with or below your elbowsyou dont want to shrug your shoulders all day because your desk is too high.
Maintain good posture. Be conscious of your body position while working at your computer, and aim to have good posture. If youre sitting, try to remember these steps:
- Place your feet flat on the floor
- Push your hips toward the back of your chair
- Keep your elbows close toward your body, and your forearms, wrists, and hands in straight out in front of you
- Relax your shoulders, but dont round them
If youre standing, stand tall and dont slouch. Standing on a softer surface, like an anti-fatigue mat, and wearing tennis shoes instead of stilettos can help you maintain that upright position.
Change your position. Some people to stand for a few hours, then sit for an hour or two, followed by more standing. The desire for variance makes sense because fatigue eventually settles in whether you are sitting or standing. As a result, your posture can sufferrounding your shoulders or leaning in an awkward positionwhich may lead to discomfort.
Take breaks. Taking breaks can not only help you physically, but mentally as well. Try detaching yourself from your computer screen for 5 or 10 minutes a few times each work day and take a walk around your office building or do a few stretches.
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Improve The Health Of Your Neck And Upper Back
Your joints do not exist in isolation. Everything in your body is connected. Problems in one joint can often be attributed to poor strength and reduced flexibility in the joints above it and below it. If there is tightness in your neck, your shoulders will attempt to compensate for it by increasing mobility and becoming less stable. Similarly, if you have weak upper back muscles, your shoulders will take on the extra unsupported weight.
Also, pain from the neck and upper back are often referred to the shoulder. Therefore, if your shoulder is persistently bothering you, take a look at your neck and upper back. Sit in an ergonomic chair that supports these regions. Do stretches to loosen up any tight muscles and consider doing exercises to strengthen your upper body.
Managing Upper Back Pain When Sitting
The average person spends a large majority of their sitting for both work and home life. How you are actually sitting during this time will play a large role in determining your bodys health. As the days goes on and fatigue sets in, injury, pain, and muscle imbalances are more likely to become an issue. Managing upper back pain when sitting can be combated with good posture awareness and finding ways to minimize a sedentary lifestyle.
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What You Need To Do
1. Adjust your chair.
- Each day before you start work, adjust your chair to support your upright posture, making sure your back shoulders and neck are relaxed.
2. Maintain correct sitting posture.
- Adjust the chair height to fit into the small of your lower back it should support the forward tilt of your pelvis. Sit well back into the chair, and use it for support, not the desk.
- The chair should take the strain. Recline your chair to ensure maximum support for you back, whilst maintaining an upright posture.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and elbows tucked close by your side.
- Keep your head balanced squarely on your shoulders. Do not lean forward with your head as this puts considerable strain on your neck and upper back muscles.
3. Maintain correct typing posture.
4. Work smart.
- Take regular short breaks. Regular short breaks are more beneficial than one long break.
- Do not spend more than 45 min at the computer without changing your posture, or standing up to do some exercise.
- Reduce mouse use by learning shortcuts on your keyboard.
- Learning to touch type will decrease the time spent looking down at your hands, putting less strain on your neck and upper back muscles.
Get Up And Move Twice An Hour
“If you work at a desk, stand and move around 1-3 minutes every half hour during the day,” said Novak. “Whenever you can stand, do so. Standing burns 20 percent more calories than sitting.”
Regular motion can be a simple stretch for just 10 seconds, recommended Steven Conway, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association.
- Stand up
- Take a big breath
- Arch your chest forward and move your head so you are looking at the ceiling.
“This position is the exact opposite of the hunched over office bod position and will work to counter the extended forward positions office work,” said Conway.
” good posture, you can see the back is straight and supported by a proper chair,” said Wolff.
As you sit at your desk, aim for this posture:
- The ears, shoulders and hips are properly inline.
- The elbow is bent to 90 degrees, as to reduce stress on the arms and shoulders.
- Head is upright allowing the neck to be stress free.
- The eyes are level with the top one-third of the computer screen.
To avoid the spine slump, the center of your computer screen should be roughly at chin level.
” will feel much more comfortable throughout the day, leading to more energy, better mood and more productivity,” said Wolff.
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