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Have you recently transitioned form working at the office to working from home? Are you noticing that you’re having more frequent headaches, neck pain or shoulder pain? Then it’s possible you’re experiencing a phenomenon called “Tech Neck”.

Working From Home Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain in the Neck

In 2022, approximately 58% of Americans now have the opportunity to work from home a minimum of one day a week, and 35% are able to work from home five days a week, according to a McKinsey research study. So if you worked in an office before the pandemic but have now transitioned to working either partially or fully from home, you’re not alone.

When you were at the office, you were likely spending most of your day:

  • Sitting at a desk that you were able to optimize to the right height,
  • Using a chair with proper support,
  • Looking at computer monitor positioned for optimal height viewing.

However, working from home has changed the ergonomics (the science of making your work environment safe, comfortable and efficient) of where and how we work.

If you’re like many people, the transition to working from home also impacted your work set-up. Not everyone has access to an ideal workspace, or the type of desk, chair or monitor set-up they enjoyed in the office. As a result, many people are now working:

  • At the kitchen island, dining table, couch, recliner, or even bed instead of sitting in a chair with proper support,
  • On a laptop which may be used from many angles and positions throughout the day, instead of viewing a proper height monitor on a desk.

Working primarily on a laptop can change your viewing angle. You have to bend your neck to look down more often than you would if sitting at a desk with a monitor. This can lead to a condition called “tech neck”, a term originally used to describe the neck and shoulder pain that results from looking down to view your smartphone or tablet.

So what is “tech neck”? When you work on a laptop, the muscles at the back of your neck need to contract in order to hold your head up. The longer you spend looking down, the harder these muscles have to work. The result is “tech neck”, which can manifest with any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Stiff neck and neck spasms
  • Headaches
  • Discomfort when looking up

If “tech neck” goes on too long, it could cause more serious problems, including:

  • A pinched nerve, causing numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms,
  • Increased pressure on the discs in your spine, causing them to wear out faster, rupture or bulge.

How can you avoid “tech neck” when working from home?

It may be difficult to perfectly recreate your office set-up when working remotely, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prevent muscle strains and pain.

If you are to make an investment in one area, it should be to purchase a chair that has both good lumbar support and the ability to recline. Leaning back while working takes the pressure off your neck muscles.

Here are some more ways to prevent “tech neck” when working from home:

  • Move more: Get up from that chair or off that couch and walk around every 15 to 30 minutes. This will put your neck in a different position and get the blood flowing.
  • Stand up more: Consider exploring ways to work standing up, at least some of the time. This may mean purchasing a standing desk.
  • Exercise more: Schedule regular aerobic exercise, aiming for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times per week. Aerobic exercise helps by increasing blood flow which in turn can prevent inflammation and pain.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of “Tech Neck”, then give our offices a call. South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness has the know-how and experience to help you. Contact one of our professionals today.