Using display screen equipment (DSE) for long periods of time can cause significant discomfort — particularly in the neck. Laptops and computer monitors are common culprits but hunching over using tablets and smartphones can be a literal ‘pain in the neck’, too!
If you’ve noticed any upper body aches or twinges from working at your desk, the following stretches can help relieve muscle tension in your neck and shoulders, and prevent bad posture.
Often neck tension in the workplace arises from a poor workstation set-up. If your screen is too high or low, it can put unnecessary strain on your neck muscles and shoulders and cause you to tense them. Long-term, these issues can lead to chronic pain and poor posture.
Similarly, staying in the same position for too long causes stiffness, neck tightness, and tension. It restricts blood flow and can cause your muscles to become fatigued more quickly. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks from your desk — preferably to stand up and walk around. A micro-break every 20 minutes is ideal.
Even if you’ve only been at your desk for a short time, you can try these helpful neck and shoulder stretches to prevent tension from building.
This exercise can help relieve neck strain and cervicogenic headaches (a headache that actually originates in the neck).
To improve your posture and prevent shoulder and neck pain, take a deep breath in and roll your shoulders backwards in a circular motion, exhaling as you bring them down. Repeat this 10 times, then try it another 10 times, rolling your shoulders forwards.
While this is another excellent seated stretch, you can also try it standing up.
Perfect for getting into the traps and improving neck muscle flexibility, these stretches can be completed standing up or sitting down.
Also known as a neck flexion stretch, this exercise is great for releasing tension in the back of the neck and at the top of the shoulder blades.
Current research indicates that regular neck stretches are beneficial to anyone who works with DSE, or whose job requires sitting for long periods of time. Therefore, any of the above stretches should be suitable for most DSE workers.
However, as with anything physical, it’s important to listen to your body. It’s normal to feel a stretch when doing these exercises, but none of them should cause pain, so if you do experience any new discomfort, you should stop immediately and seek treatment from a doctor or physiotherapist.
One of the leading causes of neck pain in the workplace is a poor desk configuration. If you or your employees are taking breaks and stretching regularly and still experiencing neck and shoulder tension, you may want to book a DSE assessment to evaluate your workstations.
We offer a range of DSE assessment options, including virtual DSE assessments for remote workers and online self-assessments. Feel free to get in touch with the Workhappy team to discuss the best solution for your needs.