Minimizing Back and Neck Pain at Your Desk

Back pain and neck pain have definitely earned their reputation as the hallmark pain associated with having a desk job. The reason for the common problem is that it simply is not natural for humans to sit in the same position for prolonged periods of time, let alone having to look at a computer monitor and typing on a keyboard all day.

Think about it, our ancestors didn’t do this, they were out and about all day, scavenging for food, and actively on foot much of the day instead of sitting in chairs of variable quality, with their hands out in front of them. That brings us to our first point about maintaining back and neck comfort throughout the long days at your desk job.

Your chair is of vital importance to your back and neck health since it provides the foundation for body support that will carry you throughout the day, and it also is responsible for the position of your neck and head when looking at your computer screen, or reading printouts, since many times they have arms where your elbows rest, which help to support (or throw off) your neck.

Most big corporations will have an ergonomics person that can visit with you and help to ensure your chair and computer monitor are set up at ideal angles and levels so that you can mitigate the strain and stress on your neck muscles, eyes, and back.

Also, most companies now will offer special ergonomic chairs for people with special needs who may have a history of back and neck problems. Usually they may require proof of need, or at least a written request for this special equipment, as they usually are not cheap for companies to purchase.

Other special equipment available to help mimimize back and neck pain and strain on the job can be obtained as well by contacting your health services or ergonomics contact on the job.

One such helpful and commonly used piece is the small foot rest which can help to elevate the legs, so that the body is at more of a perfect ninety degree angle, which can help to relieve back pain and prevent it from starting.

I’ve actually found this piece to be quite helpful if the shoes I’m wearing that day do not have heels on them, and I find that I need something to put my feet on to “balance out” my posture.

Also of vital importance, not so much to your back, but to your neck, is the position of your computer monitor. I’ve recently found that my computer monitor was pushed up to close to the edge of my desk by my keyboard. This caused me to “look up” more than I needed to, which caused severe neck tension by the end of the day.

The solution? I simply pushed my monitor back as far as I could without having to squint to read it, and my neck pain was virtually eliminated. It’s actually better to have to angle your eyes slightly downward than upward, since it is a strain to your neck to constantly be in a pinched position all day looking upward, no matter how undetectable the incline is.

Get up and walk around periodically throughout the day. Many people do not realize just how important this small thing is to their back and neck comfort, and they will sit for hours without getting up. Getting up helps to readjust your body, and gives a break to the constancy of sitting in the same rigid position all day long.

You can also go into the bathroom and do small stretches for your back. This can be a great way to rejuvenate your back, oxygenate your muscles, and release stiffness. Neck rolls and neck stretches thankfully can be done right at your desk, and these also help to periodically iron out the muscle tension.