Is work a pain in the neck?

With a staggering 1 in 4 people suffering from work related neck pain, shoulder blade pain or arm pain, this month Rebecca Nelson, Apex Clinic Founder and Spinal & Headache Physiotherapy Specialist, shares some practical tips on how to reduce your pain at work, and help stop technology causing you long-term pain.

Are you sitting comfortably?

In the chaos of a busy working environment, it’s easy to forget about your posture, but it’s actually so important in preventing pain. With many people spending 8 or more hours at their desks each day, our bodies easily become slumped into a C-shaped position, which is damaging for our necks, shoulders and spine. However, finding the correct position can prevent long-term damage. Sitting too low at a desk causes overloading of the shoulder muscles, meaning the arms have to reach up too high for the keyboard, while, sitting too high up at your desk haunches your shoulders and neck forwards, triggering further pain.

Top tip: With just a few adjustments, it’s easy to get the perfect sitting position. The middle of your monitor should be at eye level or just 10 degrees below this, and you should sit with your back reclined backwards at an angle of 30 to 35 degrees from the vertical. Keep your elbows close to your body so that your arms are not out stretched. Your thighs, forearms and hands should be positioned roughly parallel with the floor. Keep your chair pulled in under your desk, leaving your forearms to rest comfortably on the desk’s edge. Finally, taking regular breaks are important, so get up and move around, away from your desk for roughly 5 minutes, every half hour.

Put laptop woes at bay

While laptops offer flexibility and freedom to work on the move, they come at a cost of almost certain future spinal pain.

Top tip: If you are required to work from a laptop instead of a PC, I recommend using a detachable keyboard at a stable work station, such as a desk or table. Follow our tips above on adopting the perfect sitting position, and resist the urge to work on the sofa with your laptop perched on your knee, which can lead to long-term damage.

Stop your phone putting your posture under pressure

Many of us are guilty of talking on the telephone, with it cradled awkwardly between our neck and shoulder, whilst carrying out other tasks. In doing so, we are placing an extremely high load on our neck and upper back, so this should be totally avoided at all costs.

Top tip: If your job demands a lot of telephone time, ask your employer to provide you with a headset, freeing up your arms for typing or writing. 

The text-neck trend is on the rise

The ability to text, email and access the internet on the go, comes at the expense of an increase in spinal pain. In using our phones frequently, we adopt a hunched posture, on average of four hours per day. That’s a staggering 1,400 hours per year of excess strain placed on the spine. While we are all susceptible to the epidemic, this is particularly damaging for children and teenagers, as well as adults, with potential serious conditions resulting, such as trapped nerves in the neck and herniated discs.

Top tip: To avoid ‘text neck’ and encourage good posture, we recommend when you are sitting, resting your elbows on your lower ribs and holding your mobile device up, just below eye level, such that your elbow is three-quarters bent.

Say goodbye to neck and shoulder/arm pain for good

If you have tried the above top tips to improve your posture and take regular movement breaks and the pain is still present, then we should be able to help. In the vast majority of cases, this pain CAN be cleared with our unique treatment regime called The Nelson Spinal Approach™, which is offered at no other clinic in Northern Ireland, allowing you to feel pain-free again. Many people wrongly assume that their pain is part of the normal ageing process, which, in most cases, it is not, and can be cleared!

To book an appointment with our specialist physiotherapists at Apex Clinic, Belfast, call us on 028 9048 4153. No GP referral is necessary.