Who of you find that at the end of a day at work, your neck or shoulders are sore or aching? Neck pain is so common, that between 30-50% of the population will suffer from it at some point, and office workers are even more at risk of developing neck pain.
There are a number of reasons why neck pain is so common, particularly amongst office workers. Let’s look at a few of the reasons why:
- Poor computer ergonomics (Read this post about 4 monitor positions that can cause neck pain)
The way that you sit at your desk and use your technology has a large impact on your physical posture and can either relieve or create neck or lower back pain. The posture that you sustain for extended periods of time will have a knock on effect on your muscles, joints, circulation of the blood, circulation of your nervous system and importantly, the ability of your lungs to expand and thus oxygenate your brain. Are you enabling all these systems to work well or are you compromising them through your posture and creating neck or lower back pain?
2. Not enough work breaks (Read this post about micro breaks in the work place)
When we work too long and too hard without breaking our work up into bite size chunks, we deplete our energy and our concentration levels and reduce our effectiveness, but, we also tire our bodies out more than we otherwise would that could lead us to developing neck or lower back pain. In fact, research has shown that a lack of micro breaks throughout the day results in a higher risk of developing aches and pains. Hmmm, who would’ve thought? and it’s the one thing I’ve noticed about South Africans – we don’t pace ourselves. This is really not good for our health.
3. Not enough movement throughout your day (view our ergonomic desk exercise software that will help you correct your computer ergonomics and perform desk exercises throughout your day)
Ah, who feels like moving when they’re tired? I must confess that I’ve had more than my fair share of couch potato moments. Not only that, most of us hate breaking our work rhythm when we’re on a roll. However, exercising regularly (on a daily basis or even once a day) is great for us in soooooo many ways. Moving helps relieve tension that has built up in our tissues. It also improves our circulation and helps protect us from aches and pains. It is good for stress relief and for our general health/cardiovascular system. Overall, if you are suffering from neck or lower back pain, exercise can help you reduce it.
An interesting thing I’ve noticed in my work is that even if someone has a really bad computer setup causing them to sit in an awful posture, if that person moves every hour, they invariably don’t get the aches and pains their colleagues who don’t move and sit in the same position do get.
Furthermore, moving throughout your day keeps your mind fresh and helps you perform better at your job. Taking active micro breaks is definitely worth considering in your work day!
4. And Stress!
Stress, stress, stress. The silent killer. The thing in our life that can take everything that’s good and run it down.
Researchers have discovered that working under time pressures and deadlines have a significant association with the development of neck pain. They’ve also shown that if you are being managed by someone who has a poor leadership style, you’re also more likely to suffer from muscular aches and pains. Eina!
And lastly, if you are experiencing psychosocial stress, you are also more likely than your peers to be experiencing neck and shoulder pain.
So, how can you help yourself?
- You can correct your computer ergonomics (click here to view software that can help you correct your computer ergonomics yourself)
- You can take more breaks and move more at your desk (click here to view software that can help you perform 30 second exercises at your desk)
- You can find ways to deal with your stress (click here to find FREE resources to help you deal with your stress)
Dealing with stress is not easy. It’s a process that requires learning new skills and looking at our life and situations in new and different ways. If you are suffering from stress, you owe it to yourself to find ways to reduce its detrimental affect on your life.
Ariens G.A.M., Bongers P.M., Hoogendoorn W.E., Houtman I.L.D., van der Wal G., van Mechelen W. 2001. “High quantitative job demands and low coworker support as risk factors for neck pain.” Spine 26 (17): 1896-1903
Bongers P.M., Ijmker S., van den Heuvel S., Blatter B.M. 2006. “Epidemiology of work related neck and upper limb problems: Psychosocial and personal risk factors (Part I) and effective interventions from a bio behavioural perspetive (Part II).” Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 16: 279-302.
Gawke J.C., Gorgievski M.J., van der Linden D. 2012. “Ofﬁce Work and Complaints of the Arms, Neck and Shoulders: The Role of Job Characteristics, Muscular Tension and Need for Recovery.” Journal of Occupational Health 54: 323–330.
Ferreira Jr M., Saldiva P.H.N. 2002. “computer-telephone interactive tasks: predictors of musculoskeletal disorders according to work analysis and workers’ perception.” Applied Ergonomics 33 (2): 147-153.
Fjell Y., Osterberg M., Alexanderson K., Karlqvist L., Bildt C. 2007. “Appraised leadership styles, psychosocial work factors, and musculoskeletal pain among public employees.” International Archive of Occupational and Environmental Health 81 (1): 19-30.