Neck Pain And Headache
Office work has never been more influenced by regular screen use than today. High amount of time that we spent using laptops or monitors makes us vulnerable to neck pain, especially when conditions under we use them force us to occupy deviated neck positions for longer periods of time.
Neck pain is the number one office work pain out there. It is so common there is a higher chance of you developing it than avoiding it. Next to that, it could significantly alter your life quality on long run. If left untreated and ignored, it is only a matter of time before neurological processes of chronification will take place. Once started, putting them on hold and reverting pain onset will become an excessively hard, complex and long lasting effort.
Understanding why it hurtsPrecise close-shot visual tasks (such as on-screen work) are a very specific category of human movement tasks. Bluntly speaking, it looks quite the opposite – no real movement to be seen, only eyes turning to all directions of the screen. To reach visual preciseness and agility needed, the head needs to be firmly locked in place, therefore making minor focus shift fast and accurate.
To have just about any part of the body firmly locked in place, there is a necessity to ensure a muscle co-contraction around that part. As you might imagine, 8 hours of more or less static neck posture, resulting in constant neck muscle contraction and insufficient resting periods will take it’s toll by itself. Combining this long standing exposure with a highly deviated neck position, such as looking down at a too low screen or adopting a constantly-rotated neck position (while looking left or right) will exponentially increase chances of pain onset.
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How to resolve or ease the pain
1. Set your screen height around eye levelUpper edge of the screen should be very close to the horizontal line with your eyes – while seating in an upright and relaxed position, looking straight ahead. Most laptop stands or monitor stands don’t do the job, despite being declared ergonomic.
If you’re using a laptop, your laptop stand should raise the screen for at least 15 cm. Most office workers with standard office desks will find ideal height of their laptop stand anywhere in between 20 and 27 cm. Now measure or check height of commercially available laptop stands – most of them won’t even be close to ensuring you an ergonomically optimal viewing experience. Any laptop stand too low will force you to compensate it’s height with neck or back bending.
Use our ergonomic calculator to find your ergonomically perfect height of laptop stand. After that, check our Riser, Model Y or Model A, which will ensure ergonomic personalization and a decent ergonomic-fit.
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2. Position screens right in front of youMake sure your primarily used screen is right in front of you. This means right in front of your body (not just in front of your rotated head), without the need for additional neck rotation while looking at the screen.
If using only one screen, this shouldn’t be a problem. Position it right in front you, so you can look at it without additional strain.
If using two screens, have a thought about the time you spent watching each. If you’re using only one most of the time, put that one right in front of you and the other (“secondary”) screen on side. You want to be looking straight ahead most of the time, not out of that line that forces you to rotate your head. If you’re evenly using both screens, bring them completely together – their meeting point should be centered right in front of you.
If using multiple screens, think about the time spent watching each. You’ll probably realize you have a primary screen that you’re using most of the time. Center that one right in front you, then evenly distribute others around it, making your visual path to them as short as possible.
3. Correct screen size and font sizeYour screen should be positioned at a distance allowing you to relaxingly see all of the details pictured, without the need to often compensate your (neck) posture in order to see things clearly. Optimal distance primarily depends on screen size, but a good viewing position can be altered by adjusting font size and screen enlargement.
Make sure you’re able to easily and clearly use the screen without reaching forward with your head. Rare occasions when you’ll need to do that here and there are acceptable.
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4. Stay movingHaving a healthy and aligned neck posture for most of the time is important. But getting out of static posture, making relaxed neck movements and stretching the surrounding tissues is even more important. Whenever possible, freely move your head in all directions that bring you comfort. Fluent stretching of neck and shoulder muscles will reduce strain off your static and stiff tissues. Relax your muscles even while using the screen, as stiff posture might make things worse. Stay fluent, stay moving!