Top tips to reduce computer-related neck and back pain
Postural problems are one of the most common causes of neck and back pain. With sustained bad posture, ligaments become over-stretched, neck and other spinal and pelvic joints and nerves are put under pressure, and muscles become tired and tight or stretched. One of the main ways that postural problems can develop is from working at a desk for prolonged periods. Working with your head down and shoulders slouched for long periods of time can lead to back and neck pain, tiredness and increased risk of injury. The good news is that these types of injuries can be avoided with a few basic changes.
Here are a few tips to help you control and prevent work-related neck and back pain.
- Try and regain good posture at all times – pelvic lifted, shoulders relaxed and chin tucked in
- Recognise when you are tense
- Try and relax your muscles
- Avoid working for long periods with your head down or to one side – change positions regularly
- Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles frequently – move around every 30mins to reduce any build-up of tightness
- Take timed rest breaks at regular intervals
Another consideration is how your computer is set up. The correct set-up of a computer workstation is vitally important in preventing and controlling neck and back symptoms, particularly if you spend long periods of time working at the computer. By having the workstation correctly set up, you minimise the stresses placed on your neck, back and upper limbs. Below are some simple tips to assist you in using your computer and setting up your computer workstation.
- Sit in a good quality, comfortable and adjustable office chair
- Adjust the seat height so that your hips and knees are bent approximately 90o and your feet are flat on the floor – use a footrest if necessary
- Elbows should also be bent 90 degrees
- Adjust the backrest so that it supports the curve in your back. It should not restrict movement of your shoulder
- Position the computer approximately one arm’s length away from you
- When sitting tall, the top of the screen should be at eye level
- Always have the screen positioned directly in front of you – never use your screen positioned to one side
- Avoid working from documents flat on the desk as this encourages a flexed neck posture. Instead, use a document holder close to the screen
- Avoid using laptops or tablets or Smart phones for extended periods
- Limit computer use and take regular breaks – stretch, walk around and change tasks regularly