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5 Ergonomic Ways To Relieve Neck Pain At Your Desk

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Do you wake up every morning with pain in your neck?  Learn some of the most common causes of neck pain, how to relieve neck pain, and 5 simple changes you can make today to give your daily routine an ergonomic makeover!   

Download this podcast episode above for later, or watch the show below.

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HOW TO RELIEVE NECK PAIN WITH 5 ERGONOMIC TIPS
Before and After French Country Cottage Sunroom Renovation

How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

If you follow along in my Instagram stories, then you know that 2 weeks ago I suffered from a condition called “torticullis.”

No, that is not the name of a mythical creature from Lord of the Rings, but in fact, a fancy medical term for neck spasm.

For several weeks I had neck pain on the right side which was becoming stronger and stronger, and it was especially sore when I would get up in the morning.

HOW TO RELIEVE NECK PAIN WITH 5 ERGONOMIC TIPS
French Country Cottage Home Office Tour

I knew full well the cause was my home office setup and lack of attention to proper ergonomics, but as is typical of one who knows better, I neglected my own frequently given advice to countless patients on how to prevent neck and back pain with proper ergonomics.

And so I paid for it with severe spasming and two incredibly painful therapeutic massages.

For those of you local, I highly recommend Therapeutic Massage Works if you suffer from chronic neck or back pain.

If you spend hours at a desk, looking at a screen, or using a cell phone, then I am going to share with you 5 ergonomic tips to relieve and prevent neck pain especially if you have neck pain on right side (I’m looking at all you right handed people).

HOW TO RELIEVE NECK PAIN WITH 5 ERGONOMIC TIPS
My desk set up before it got an ergonomic makeover.

How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

First of all, I am sure you are asking what in the sam hill does “ergonomic” mean?

Actually probably not a single one of you used the term sam hill, but let’s get to the point.

Ergonomics is quite simply “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.”

For my purposes, I am sharing ergonomic tips on how to position your body in such a way as to improve your physiological function and prevent disability (like a debilitating neck spasm!) in the workplace.

How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

For more healthy living tips be sure to check out:

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    #1. Keep your neck in a neutral position.

    Let’s start at the top.

    Elevate the laptop or computer screen so that it is approximately an arm length away and at eye level with your face.

    You should not have to significantly move your head up or down in order to see your screen.

    I bought this stand to elevate my laptop and this device stand for my IPAD and phone so that all of my screens are at eye level.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    #2. Shoulders should be relaxed and elbows at a 90 degree angle on the keyboard.

    Adjust your desk or chair as needed to achieve this ergonomic position.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    I actually took the adjustable feet off of my secretary desk because it needed to be lower in order to achieve this position.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    I also added a second cushion to my chair. It is not pretty, but it works.

    I may end up investing in a counter height chair that could be lowered to the right position as my secretary desk is a little too high for the average chair.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    #3. Wrists should be maintained in a neutral position on the keyboard and mouse.

    Chronic hyper extension or flexion of the wrist can ultimately end up leading to carpel tunnel and chronic wrist pain.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    One way of protecting your wrists and maintaining a neutral position is to buy a wrist pad for your keyboard and mouse. Also the mouse should move easily and without significant effort.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    The new wireless keyboard I bought came with a mouse, and I actually switched back to my old mouse because the new mouse did not move as easily.

    [show_boutique_widget id=”1027571″]

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    #4. Keep your knees at a 90 degree angle.

    I have a cross bar at the bottom of my desk that I always rest my feet on, but otherwise I recommend a foot stool.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    This will help to protect your lower back and the entire spine!

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    #5. Add a lumber support pillow.

    Adding a lumber support pillow can help relieve pressure on your lower back and prevent excessive muscle fatigue.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    ** BONUS TIP: Consider using blue light glasses for prolonged screen time.

    We just aren’t sure how detrimental excessive amounts of blue light will be over the course of a lifetime, and we are only just now in the decade when people will have been routinely exposed to blue light from childhood.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    I am not winning any fashion awards with these, but here are the blue light glasses I wear.

    How to Relieve Neck Pain With 5 Ergonomic Tips

    Before and after

    How to Relieve Neck Pain with 5 Ergonomic Tips

    For more healthy living tips be sure to check out:

      What products do you use to create a better work environment? I might need them too!

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      Pin any of the images below for later!

      HOW TO RELIEVE NECK PAIN WITH 5 ERGONOMIC TIPS

      HOW TO RELIEVE NECK PAIN WITH 5 ERGONOMIC TIPS

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      Transcript

      Hello. And welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host. On a fuller today, we are talking five ergonomic tips for your desk to help relieve neck pain, to help relieve neck pain. We’re also going to chat ways to help prevent, sorry. Hold on. Ah, this always happens just gonna happen minute. Sorry. My show notes end up shifting and I lose my spot. I apologize. Hello. And welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host, Anna Fuller. Today. We are chatting five ergonomic tips for your desk to help relieve neck pain and prevent some of the common causes of neck pain. About was it probably two years ago now it was around Christmas time and I suffered from a condition called Tous know, that is not the name of a mythical creature from the Lord of the rings, but in fact, a fancy medical term for next spasm. I specifically remember it because we were hosting our annual Christmas fondue party. Which I’ve never canceled. And for several weeks I had had neck pain on the right side, neck pain on right side, and it kept becoming stronger and stronger. And it was especially sore when I would get up in the morning. And in like typical mom fashion, I was like, ah, you know, do a couple head and neck rolls, uh, whatever it’ll get better. And you plug through your day. I remember setting up the fondue per was putting plates out. I was, and it was getting worse. And worse to the point by the, I was literally sitting on the sofa, unable to move. If I moved, even at all, I got such shooting pain on the right side of my neck that I could not move. This is called torticollis where it actually is like your head, um, actually ends up looking like this because it’s so spasmed. It’s actually like spasmed to one side or the. I knew full well, what the cause was it was my home office setup and lack of attention to proper ergonomics, but as is typical of one who knows better, I neglected my own frequently given advice to countless patients on how to prevent neck and back pain with proper ergonomic. So I paid for it with severe spasming and two incredibly painful therapeutic massages. For those of you local, by the way, I highly recommend the therapeutic massage works in LIS. If you suffer from chronic neck or back pain, it really does make a difference. They’re not comfortable. I’ll just say I’ll put it that way. It is incredibly painful, incredibly painful. But if you spend hours at a desk looking at a screen or using a cell phone, I am going to share with you five ergonomic tips to relieve and prevent neck and back pain. We’re basically gonna help give your desk, your workspace and ergonomic makeover. There are more tips than just these five. I’m just show I’m sharing with you. The five that I actually implemented at that time. And I have not experienced it since this really does make a difference. So first of all, you might be asking what in the world does ergonomic mean? Ergonomics is quite simply the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. For my purposes, I am sharing ergonomic tips on how to position your body in such a way as to improve your physiological function and prevent disability like a debilitating next spasm. For example, in your workplace. I also want to refer to an excellent podcast episode I did with Tom SWES. He is a celebrity physiotherapist. He is an expert in body movement. And he did some excellent examples on the episode of exercises to relieve neck pain, back pain. He’s incredible. I highly recommend checking out all of his stuff to get more exercise ideas, to strengthen and relieve some of this muscle tension that you might be experiencing. But let me share with you the five ergonomic desk or office tips that made all the difference for me in preventing this recurrence. Neck, spasming and pain, and will certainly help you as well. Number one, you want your neck in a neutral position. So we’re gonna start sort of at the top and work down because if you don’t know, you may be feeling pain here, but this pain here might be related to something that is happening in your back or vice versa. It’s all connected. Just listen to the interview with Tom SW. And I won’t need to convince you. So one of the things that I did and do now always is I elevate my screen, my laptop or computer screen. So one, it is approximately an arm length away. Like the screen that I’m looking at right now is a little less than an arm length away, but I level with your face, you should not have to significantly move your head. Or down in order to see your screen, you should be able to sit with your chin tucked down a little bit, right in good posture should be flat down the back and your screen should be eye level so that you’re not having to tilt your head up or down. So I used a screen stand. An example of this and the link to the exact one I used, there’s nothing special about this one, but it was certainly budget friendly. Um, I have several of them for any of my screens for like my computer screens. Now, another stand that I bought was to elevate smaller devices. So I have two laptop stands. I also have two, uh, like iPad or cell phone stands. Well, wait, where. Here. I can’t show you the laptop stand, cuz my laptop is sitting on it, but here’s an example of the cell phone stand. What this does is it keeps my phone while I’m working, especially because I sit for a lot of my day now to work at my desk. And then this sits and it holds the iPad that I use as a second screen because it’s budget friendly. It’s a lot cheaper than a second monitor screen. And again, I put it at eye level and then same with this cell phone on this, so that it’s at eye level. And again, it prevents hyper reflect or hyperextension of your cervical spine to be. Tip number two, shoulders should be relaxed and elbows at a 90 degree angle. This, this was the culprit for me specifically when I had torticollis and I had this terrible, uh, next spasming on the right side, you need to adjust your desk or chair to achieve this ergonomic. So the desk that I used at this time, like when I wrote this post initially on the blog, when I had had this severe neck spasm, by the way, by the way, this same thing happened when I very first started blogging. When I very, very first started blogging, I got this exact same thing and I knew then too, what it was, it was because for the first time in my life, I was sitting for a couple hours every day. Um, typing and I didn’t even think about ergonomic positioning, cuz I worked in medicine all my life, where I was lucky if I sat at all you know what I mean? So like I didn’t have to think about sitting at a desk, but when I first started blogging, I got severe spasming in my neck and it was again, this exact same thing, but this was our second house. When I got torticollis the second time it was at our third house, different desk setups. We make the worst patients. Those of us who actually know what we’re talking about, tell you what, but basically what happens is that the desk that I was using was high. It’s a high secretary desk. It’s kind of an unusual height and it really should be, it should have been lowered. The chair that I was sitting in was too low for the desk. So what happened, especially when my right hand sort of lived on a mouse. and because the desk was too high, my chair was too low. Here is what, here’s what I look like. You can’t see my right shoulder super well, but it was slightly like this for hours. If you’re watching the video, you might be able to see this, but if you’re listening, I’m basically showing you that it is slightly elevating my right shoulder. And this is engaging these muscles here around my neck. As opposed to keeping them relaxed and in a neutral position. So how do you adjust? Well, there’s different ways to do it. You can get one of those adjustable desks that move to your height. Whether you’re standing, Tom swales made an excellent point. He’s like one of the keys is movement. You need to still be moving. I have not yet adjusted to a standing desk. I would like to, I’m actually considering giving my current desk a makeover and putting like adjustable feet on the base or whatever, so that I can move it to my height. But, um, the other option is getting an adjustable chair. That’s like a countertop height that would give you more. Ability to lower and heighten it. But the bottom line is this. When your hands are resting on your keyboard, if you’re sitting in a keyboard, have somebody take a picture of you. If you really are experiencing chronic neck pain, I highly recommend taking these steps to do this. Put your hands on your keyboard, put one hand on your mouse and have somebody take a picture of you. Your. Elbow should make a comfortable, relaxed L that’s 90 degrees so that your shoulders are in a neutral position and relaxed. And then your arms are at a relaxed, like relaxed 90 degree. So for me, budget options here, I added a second cushion to my chair. It was not pretty, but it worked. I, I showed a picture on the blog post. This was how I made these budget adjustments to make it happen. Um, I got a, I took a cushion off of our living room sofa and I added like a, I call it a buck pillow. I don’t know how else to put it, but it’s like a, a U shape. Um, it also gives your lumbar spine a little bit more support, but it helped elevate me enough so that my arms were resting in the right position and my neck wasn’t spasmed. So three then ergonomic tick number three, is that wrists. So we went neck elbows were now at wrists should be maintained in a neutral position on the keyboard and the mouse. Chronic hyper extension extension or flexion of the wrist can ultimately end up bleeding the carpal tunnel and chronic wrist pain. This is something that I saw many, many, many patients for one of the ways of protecting your wrist, maintaining a neutral position, especially with a keyboard is to buy a wrist pad for your keyboard. Because again, you want your wrist to be neutral, but what tends to happen if you’re not elevating that wrist with a cushion, as I’m showing you here in the video, it does this, it does this, and it’s hard to see, but this is actually slightly expended. Okay. You want it neutral. You also don’t want it like this either, but this is the bigger. So you wanna buy a wrist pad for your keyboard and. Also the mouse should move easily and without significant effort, that sounds really silly. But if you are sitting where you are using a mouse a lot, it should glide really easily. I never thought about this until I was thinking through like all these ways. I mean, that spasming was no joke. Like it was terrible. It was so painful. So I was thinking like through everything. And one of the things that I realized is there’s not all mouses are created. Hmm, mice mouses. What, you know what I’m saying? Those little handheld things that move your point around on your screen. That thing they’re not all created equal some move a lot easily. It should move really, really easily so that you are not constantly having to hyper extend flex your wrist. I’ve actually, to be honest, I found the cheaper ones actually move easier. I returned a really nice one. And bought this cheapo one. It’s like $11. This one, I think now the new wireless keyboard that I bought, this was the example. It came with a mouse that was a lot nicer. I did not like it. I switched back to the old mouse because the new one was just a lot harder to move around and I switched it out. So again, It’s the little things. Ergonomic tip number four. We’re continuing down the body. We talked neck, we talked elbows. We talked wrist. I’m not gonna break out into song. Although I want to head and shoulders knees and toes knees and okay. I’ll stop. My daughter would be so embarrassed right now. Number four, we’re down to the knees. Keep your knees at a 90 degree. So this particular desk that I was having issue is the issues with there was a crossbar at the bottom of the desk that I always rested my feet on. The problem is, again, it was not like a good ergonomical position. And when you’re talking, sitting for several hours a day, it was definitely, it was putting my spine in a misaligned position. So I ended up investing in a foot stool cushion. I, it sits at the bottom of my desk. I’m also short I’m five, three. So I use this cushion to help keep my knees at a comfortable, relaxed 90 degree angle. This will help protect your lower spine, really the entire spine, cuz again, it’s all aligned. It’s all connected. And um, just give you a little bit more support. Tip number five, add a lumbar support pillow. Remember that pillow that I talked about when I was elevating my chair because my chair couldn’t go up any higher than it already was. Right. I had this weird. High secretary desk. But what I did notice is by adding the lumbar support pillow, it did relieve pressure on my lower back. My lower back did not ache as much at the end of my Workday. It makes sense then why these lumbar support pillows, part of what they’re advocating for is that it prevents success of muscle fatigue because you’re not having to engage the muscles quite as much. And it, it allows them to relax. So the lumber support pillow, I linked to the one that I used. Is there like a magical lumber support pillow? No, I don’t. I don’t think so. Um, this is just a side note I added considering using blue light glasses. That’s not necessarily an ergonomic tip, but. I do think it’s important to make sure that one you’re wearing the right glasses for your work. Meaning if you can’t see your screen, I think a lot of people without even realizing subconsciously do one of these numbers. If you’re watching me, you can see I’m like slowly looking in closer at the screen. Well, you see what it just did? My whole spine is now misaligned. It’s no longer in a neutral position. So here’s another way of adjusting that maybe you really do need glasses, blue light glasses, by the way, have nothing to do with your eyesight. It’s prevent. All that blue light from your screens, which can also be detrimental to your sleep, but increase the font on your screen. This is a tip. Increase the font on your screen. If you find yourself subconsciously doing one of these numbers, or you slowly get closer and closer to your screen, cuz again, misaligned not neutral. You’re having to like squint and lean in to be able to read your screen, increase the font size on your screen. Maybe consider like glasses, reading, glasses, whatever you need to be able to more clearly see the, uh, screen that you were looking at for several hours a day. So again, that is neck in neutral alignment, your elbows at a 90 degree angle. Your wrist should not be hyper extended or HyperFlex. They should be neutral your knees at a 90 degree angle. Don’t worry. I won’t break out into song again. a, uh, foot stool will help with those knees and then a lumbar pillow for your lower back. Make sure you can actually read your screen, increase the font size, whatever you need to do so that you’re. Having to readjust your spine and you can maintain a neutral position. I hope one of these tips helps if you have neck pain, chronic back pain, again, check out Tom SWES amazing interviews, sky rockstar, expert, body movement to live well and decrease common causes of pain. Check out that podcast episode, and I hope these tips help you to live with less pain.

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      6 Comments

      1. So many good tips! I sit at a desk 4 days a week and my husband has been working from home since March. We recently added footstools and it was definitely a game changer! Thanks for sharing.

      2. “What I’m the Sam Hill???” I giggled when I read that. You’re my people. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful blog filled with great information. I know I need to do a lot of work to get my workspace functional and healthy. ? xo, Do

      3. I have a glass stand to elevate my laptop but I still need to make some other adjustments. Thanks for all these great suggestions.

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