How does your neck feel at the end of your day? Sore, and stiff, with an accompanying headache or tight shoulders? Then it could be related to your work.
Activities that are repeated or prolonged can affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints of the neck and back. These include the following.
Poking your head forward to read a computer screen. Doing this for a prolonged period of time will cause or aggravate neck pain.
Repetitive movements of your arms or upper body. Using a keyboard, for example, or many types of manual work involve this kind of repeated movement.
Poor lifting techniques. Your neck is at risk almost as much as your back when you lift heavy loads incorrectly.
Whatever your job, the key to protecting your neck is to keep your head and neck in a neutral position that maintains the natural curve of your cervical spine – the part that supports your head. Follow these three tips to ensure you’re taking care of your spine and neck.
1. Set up your workstation.
Your computer needs to be at eye level and directly in front of you – never twist your neck in order to read the screen.
Adjust your chair or your computer to ensure that you’re in the right position.
Keep your feet flat on the floor, and the back of your chair in an upright position. This helps keep your spine neutral.
If you can’t read the screen without craning your neck forward, you may need to invest in a pair of computer glasses – see your optometrist to get the right prescription.
Are you on the phone for much of the day? Watch you’re not cradling the phone between your ear and neck – instead use an ergonomically designed neck cradle, a headset, or the speakerphone.
2. Lift correctly.
It’s essential to protect your spine when lifting. Never bend your back; always bend at your hips and knees. Hold the object close to your body, and avoid twisting.
3. Take stretch breaks.
Our bodies are designed to move. Sitting in one position for long periods, however good your posture, will stress your body. At least once an hour, get up and stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Gently tilt your head from side to side, roll your shoulders, and take a short walk.
Find more wellness tips for the workplace from Healthworks here.