Is My Neck Pain and Headache Related to My Desk Job

A desk job might be ideal in many ways, you don’t have to fight cold or heat working outside and it may not be physical. But it has its own draw backs. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day can be a source of aches and pains. It is not uncommon for people who work with computer to complain of neck pain, back pain and headaches.

Prolonged sitting at a desk with little movement can often cause muscle tightness in neck, back and leg muscles and affects proper circulation which in turn can cause pain  headaches and sometimes tingling in hands and legs. Our bodies are designed to move, even while sleep, we still move and change position.

So you have a desk job. This doesn’t mean that you have to live with aches and pains? Certainly not…

There are easy and simple ways to prevent aches and pains related to sedentary jobs:

  1. Adjust your work station

Ergonomic assessment and adjustment of your work station is the first step for promoting good function and minimizing injuries. Majority of desks and chairs are designed for people with average height. An adjustable height chair can easily be modified to fit your need.  You should sit in a chair with back support in a way that the computer monitor is at your eye level and elbows at 90 degrees. Feet should be rested on a stool to prevent tightness in the muscles in the back of legs (hamstrings).

  1. Stretch frequently

Even the best ergonomically modified work station can not completely eliminate the effects of a sedentary job. Move frequently and apply simple stretches to prevent tightening of your muscles and improve blood circulation.

  1. Stand up

Work your largest muscle groups in thighs and gluteal muscles by simply standing up. The simple act of standing from a seated position improves circulation and balance and challenges your core muscles. It also opens up your hip joints and prevents low back pain. Make a point of answering every other phone call in standing instead of sitting.

  1. Tip onto your Toes

Challenge your balance and improve circulation even more by rising up on your toes and lowering back onto your heels. This movement activates your calf muscles and pumps the blood back to your heart which prevents restless legs at night.

  1. Move your neck

Gently move your neck from side to side and rotate from right to left. Repeat this a few times every few hours.  Round your back with your arms stretched in front of you and squeeze your shoulder blades slightly to open up your chest. If you are making frequent phone calls, use a headset.

  1. Arch backward

Being in slumped position and bending forward for much of day compresses your internal organs and affects your energy level. This is in addition to straining your back muscles and compressing the disk. To prevent the effects, simply arch back once in a while and take a deep breath.

  1. Stretch hands and wrists

Keyboarding and working with a mouse strains your hand and wrist flexors and over time can increase pressure on nerves serving the hands and fingers and cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). To prevent tightness of hand and wrist muscles, stretch your arm in front of you and gently bend fingers and wrist towards you for a few times.

  1. Mix up tasks

Plan your work day and alternate between tasks in a way that you use different muscle groups. For example, after an hour or two of keyboarding, do some filing or make your phone calls and faxes before returning to keyboarding.

  1. Exercise routinly

A regular exercise program or a daily walk during lunch hour or after work does wonders. Combine these tips with a weekly exercise routine to strengthen your core muscles and improve general flexibility and conditioning. Join a yoga practice once a week and learn how to relax at the end of your day. If your pains and aches still persist, visit a physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist.

For more information on how to set up your desk visit:


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The Physiomobility Team