Tech Neck 101: When Working from Home Is a Pain in Your Neck

Apr 06, 2023
Tech Neck 101: When Working from Home Is a Pain in Your Neck
Working from home has plenty of benefits including making productive use of commuting time and improving work/life balance. Sometimes, though, the ergonomics of home desk work fall short of conditions at the office. The result can be tech neck.

Long hours spent in any single position can raise potential physical challenges. Seated office work on a computer or laptop combines with concentration and focus to pull your body into some compromised postures. 

You may begin to suffer from varied effects like reduced blood circulation, digestive issues, eye strain, and loss of flexibility. One of the more common effects is chronic pain in your neck and shoulders, often called tech neck. 

Tech neck may be reaching epidemic proportions in the United States since the use of digital devices often draws users into a head-forward posture that upsets the natural load balance on your spine. While your body handles this posture in stride for short periods, chronic head-forward posture can lead to chronic neck pain. 

Dr. Rudy Malayil and his team at Pain Management 360 in Huntington, Hurricane, and Charleston, West Virginia, can help you understand more about the causes of home office tech neck and what you can do to avoid the problem. We specialize in neck pain treatment too, in case your self-care efforts aren’t enough to restore pain-free living. 

Tech neck 101

Your head weighs about the same as a bowling ball. Anyone who bowls knows that the weight of a bowling ball, while remaining constant, can seem like it has different weights, depending on how close you hold the ball to your body. It feels lightest when pressed against your chest and seems to get heavier the farther away it’s held. 

It has to do with the weight of the bowling ball in relation to your center of gravity. Carrying a load close to your spine takes less effort than the same load held away from your spine. When you tip your head forward to view a smartphone, you’re moving your skull away from the balance point over your center of gravity. 

Improvised home offices

It’s also easy to fall into a head-forward habit when you’re working at a desk. Even when you’re at an ergonomically designed workstation, you can lean forward as you concentrate, forcing your body to manage unbalanced loads and straining your musculoskeletal system. 

Setting up on a dining or coffee table is miles away from ergonomic design. You may never start in a balanced sitting posture, further reducing the time needed for pain to start. 

Micro breaks and posture resets

The best approach to any long-duration sitting is to break up that time. Max out at 45 minutes, then get up from a seated position and move around. Quick exercises like squats and wall push-ups are even better, but there’s no need for you to work out each hour. A 30-second stand-and-stretch break helps to counter some of your sitting time. 

Even if you have an ergonomically sound desk setup at home, reset your posture throughout the day until sitting up straight becomes second nature. Reducing screen time isn’t always possible, but when you have an opportunity, put down your phone or get away from your computer monitor. 

Pain Management 360 is here to help when neck pain persists. Call or click today to request an appointment at our location nearest you.