Although the pandemic is arguably no longer in full swing, one in four Americans with white-collar jobs may continue working from home (WFH) throughout 2021 and beyond, according to an Upwork report. Despite the high number, only 20% of employers are paying employees to set up an ergonomic workplace at home indicated by a study from Owl Labs.
Unless workers are paying hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to create a healthy workstation at home, make-shift desks at kitchen counters, living room sofas, and dining room tables have become the new office. It’s not hard to imagine that this often leads to back and neck pain, making working from home a literal pain in the neck.
Poor Posture and Other WFH Problems
Slouching is a major contributor to neck pain. The longer someone sits in an unhealthy position, the more likely it becomes that they will experience neck pain. Here are several other reasons that working from home can cause increased neck pain:
- Less physical activity
- Long hours of sitting
- Leaning forward
- Poor posture
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
It stands to reason that correcting these conditions can help WFH employees get their neck pain under control. However, if chronic pain continues after making positive changes in the home work environment, it may be time to consult with a doctor who specializes in spinal conditions.
What You Can Do to Alleviate WFH Neck Pain
First and foremost, remember that slouching is a major cause of neck and back pain. Here are a few tips to help home office workers avoid chronic neck pain:
- Get up and walk around often. If time permits, you should get up from the desk and take a walk around the block or perform some healthy stretches to get the blood moving and loosen tight neck muscles. Taking a five-minute break every hour can increase energy and reduce pain. Placing snacks, drinks, and other items far away from the workstation also maximizes movement.
- Sit square to the monitor. Your face, hips, and shoulders should face the screen directly.
- Keep your head right over the shoulders, rather than pushing your chin forward.
- Ensure that your computer remains at eye level.
Try These Neck Exercises:
- Neck stretch: Tired WFH employees can perform this stretch at the desk. The correct position is sitting in front of the desk with the feet hip-width apart and the back straight. Moving only the neck, bring the right ear to the right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Turn the head downward to look at the floor for 10 seconds. Return the ear to the same shoulder and rotate the neck backward to look up at the ceiling for 10 seconds. Repeat these motions on the other side.
- Thumbs to pits stretch. Sitting tall at the desk, put each thumb in the same-side armpit, then squeeze the elbows downward. At the same time, the chest should move forward and up. Look toward the ceiling and hold the position several seconds. Repeat as needed.
For those who still experience chronic or acute neck pain after making positive changes, it may be time to seek the help of a professional. At Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, our neurosurgeon, Dr. Lewis, is an expert on treatments for back and neck pain. He can make additional recommendations specific to your lifestyle and provide nonsurgical or minimally invasive spine surgery if you have an underlying condition causing the pain.
Make an appointment today or call (601) 366-1011 for a neck pain consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you!