Is Working From Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Is Working From Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Working from home has loads of advantages, including an easier “commute” and — if you’re lucky — a more flexible schedule. But now that you’re months or years into the whole Zoom meeting thing, you may have noticed some unexpected side effects. One of them could be neck pain. 

Our pain experts at Spectrum Pain Clinics in Jackson and Cordova, Tennessee, have noticed an uptick in neck pain since so many people started working from home. If you’re one of them, here’s what could be behind it and what you can do about it.

You’ve got a “big” head

The average human adult head weighs 10-12 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to put on the small, thin bones of your cervical spine, otherwise known as your neck. 

And when it comes to your neck, gravity isn’t your friend. As you hunch over your laptop to view the latest PDF or spreadsheet, or bend your neck to look down at your phone, that heavy head grows heavier.

Most people bend their heads forward at an angle that ranges from 45-60 degrees when they’re texting or reading emails on their phones. The weight of your head combined with gravity at that angle puts about 50-60 pounds of stress on your neck. 

Your legs miss the water cooler

And the trip to the bathroom. The walk to the cafeteria. The stroll to your favorite lunch spot. 

When you work outside the home, you have more reasons to get up and move around, especially outside the office. Your parking lot may be a few blocks away from your office, so you benefit from the short walk back and forth. Maybe you sometimes opt for the stairs over the elevator.

But at home, everything’s just a room or two away. You don’t have to walk as far to get what you need. You may even have lunch and groceries delivered straight to your door.

Even though your legs don’t seem connected to your neck pain, anytime you exercise, your entire body benefits. Regular exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise fills your blood with oxygen that nourishes all of your tissues, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your neck. 

Walking around also gives you an opportunity to stretch your body. When you’re working from home, try to take a break every 30-60 minutes. Stand up. Stretch. Turn and tilt your head gently to keep your neck limber. These neck exercises help, too. 

You’re on 24/7

One of the most damaging parts of working from home is that the boundary between home life and office life tends to dissolve. Even when you’re making dinner, you may check your phone to answer urgent texts and emails. 

That means your heavy head gets heavier each hour that ticks by, increasing the strain on your neck. Being stressed also keeps your muscles in a tense, contracted state. In fact, more than 40% of remote workers report feeling highly stressed at work and waking up frequently at night compared with only 25%-29% of on-site workers. 

Take care of your neck

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s essential to health, including neck health. Make sure you schedule your body’s mental and physical needs into your busy day. Switch from sitting down to standing. Take a walk in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening. Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles during the day.

Take time to unwind, too, and disconnect from those 24/7 texts and emails. Put your phone in airplane mode during dinner so you can enjoy time with your family or friends. Exercise regularly. Take a soak in the tub, meditate, or go on a relaxing stroll through nature.

If you’re in pain, get help for that, too, especially if it’s persisted for more than a couple of weeks or if it’s severe. To ease your neck pain, the team at Spectrum Pain Clinics may recommend a combination of therapies, such as:

Don’t let working from home become a pain in your neck. Get the help you need to restore comfort and flexibility to your cervical spine by contacting Spectrum Pain Clinics today. You can call the office near you or use our online request tool.

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