A few years ago, many of us went from commuting to an office to commuting to the couch practically overnight. While circumstances have changed since sheltering at home, many people have decided that working from the house is a better option. As a result, the number of people working from home has tripled since 2019.
While the advantages of working remotely are many, Jason LaMendola, PT, and the team here at TLC Physical Therapy are seeing more clients complaining of neck pain.
Here’s a look at why working from home can be a pain in the neck and what you can do to offset the discomfort.
The perils of working remotely
Understandably, you may have had a less-than-ideal workstation when you started working from home. Many people were forced to carve out space in their homes to set up for work, turning dining room tables into makeshift desks.
Worse still are the scores of people taking the name “laptop” literally and curling up on the couch with the computer.
To give you a better idea about the stresses on your neck, when your head is straight, there are 10-12 pounds of pressure on your neck. When your head is at a 15-degree angle, the pressure goes up to 27 pounds, and a 45-degree angle increases the pressure on your neck to 49 pounds.
This additional pressure can quickly lead to neck pain as your surrounding muscles, and soft tissues try to support the extra pressure.
Tips for tech neck at home
If you’ve decided that working remotely is right for you, it’s time to turn your temporary workspace into a more permanent and ergonomic setup.
First and foremost, get yourself a desk or table that allows you to look straight ahead at a screen. Even then, most desks don’t get your screen up to eye level, so place anything you can under your monitor to raise it up.
You can raise the laptop on a stand and get a separate keyboard to place on your desk if you have a laptop.
A chair that offers support all along your spine is also important. This chair should also have a headrest so that you can lean back every once in a while to take the pressure off your cervical spine.
While you’re working, you want to keep your spine in a neutral position, which means holding it up straight (not arched) and keeping both feet flat on the floor.
One of the best ways to avoid stiffness in your neck and shoulders is to set a timer to remind you to get up and stretch every hour. You can even stretch your neck from your office chair by slowly twisting your head from one side to the other and up and down.
Finally, we urge you to come to see us so that we can devise a solid physical therapy plan that will strengthen the muscles in your neck, back, shoulders, and core so that you can avoid neck pain and enjoy your newfound freedom of working at home.
To get started, please contact one of our offices on the North and South Shores of Staten Island, in Englishtown, New Jersey, or Midtown, Manhattan, in New York City, to schedule a consultation.