Your posture at work could cause computer neck syndrome, but there are some ways to avoid that pain in the neck…

Have someone take a photo of you while you work on a computer. Are you slouching or jutting your head out to look at the screen?

It’s a posture so common, but this seemingly harmless position compresses the neck and can lead to fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, increased muscle tension and even injury to the vertebrae over time. It can even limit the ability to turn your head.

“When your posture is tall and erect, the muscles of your back can easily support the weight of your head and neck – as much as 12 pounds [5,5kg],” explains San Francisco State University Professor of Holistic Health Erik Peper. “But when your head juts forward at a 45-degree angle, your neck acts like a fulcrum, like a long lever lifting a heavy object. Now the muscle weight of your head and neck is the equivalent of about 45 pounds [20,5kg]. It is not surprising that people get stiff necks and shoulder- and back pain.”

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The pain of slouching

Peper, Associate Professor of Health Education Richard Harvey, and his colleagues tested the effects of head- and neck position.

They asked 87 students to sit upright with their heads properly aligned on their necks and asked them to turn their heads. Then the students were asked to “scrunch” their necks and jut their heads forward.

Ninety-two percent reported being able to turn their heads much farther when not scrunching. In the second test, 125 students scrunched their necks for 30 seconds. Afterwards, 98 percent reported some level of pain in their head, neck or eyes.

If you suffer from headaches or neck and backaches from computer work, check your posture and make sure your head is aligned on top of your neck, as if held by an invisible thread from the ceiling

The researchers also monitored 12 students with electromyography equipment and found that trapezius muscle tension increased in the scrunched, head forward position.

How to avoid computer neck syndrome

So, if you suffer from headaches or neck- and backaches from computer work, check your posture and make sure that your head is aligned on top of your neck, as if held by an invisible thread from the ceiling.

“You can do something about this poor posture very quickly,” said Peper. To increase body awareness, Peper advises purposefully replicating the head-forward/neck scrunched position. “You can exaggerate the position and experience the symptoms. Then when you find yourself doing it, you can become aware and stop.”

His other suggestions to make the screen easier to read without strain include:

  • Increase the font on your computer screen
  • Wear computer reading glasses
  • Place your computer on a stand at eye level

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Source: San Francisco State University via www.sciencedaily.com