Is Your Computer Hurting Your Neck?

Reading Time: 5 minutes More and more Americans spend the majority of the day staring at a computer screen. Some estimates say that Americans hit a keyboard up to 200,000 times per day. Over time, this can lead to major headaches and neck pain, especially if people aren’t stretching properly. To help prevent neck pain and tech headaches, try these 4 simple stretches that can be performed while sitting at a desk.

1. Shrug the shoulders

This stretch focuses on pulling the shoulders down the back. Shrugging will help to improve posture and prevent neck and shoulder pain. While taking a breath in, roll the shoulders up to the ears. On the exhale, roll the shoulders back and lift the chest. Repeat 10 times.

2. Tilt from side to side

Start by sitting tall with the shoulders down and back, away from the ears. Slowly tilt the head so that the right ear is leaning toward the right shoulder. Feel the stretch on the left side of the neck. Try to roll the left shoulder down away from the ear to deepen the stretch. Bring the head back to center and repeat on the other side.

3. Point the chin to the shoulder

This exercise will help to stretch the sides of the neck as well as the shoulders. Start by pointing the chin toward the right shoulder. Tilt the chin slightly down. Gently place the right hand on the left side of the head and slowly pull the chin closer to the shoulder. There should be a stretch in the left side and back of the neck. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

4. Open the shoulders and chest

To start, scoot to the edge of the chair or stand. Make sure posture is good and the spine is straight. Clasp the hands behind the back, interlacing all Some fingers. Try to press the palms toward each other. Roll the shoulders down and away from the ears. If this is comfortable, possibly tilt the chin slightly toward the ceiling to open the chest and shoulders even more.

What to avoid

While many gym classes often incorporate neck circles, this exercise is actually not recommended for those with neck pain. Research has shown that neck rolls can put too much stress on the spine. This movement can even increase compression of the arteries at the neck.

Prevent chronic pain

While working at a computer or desk may be unavoidable, there are ways to prevent chronic pain and headaches. Try to perform these 4 stretches at least once daily and get up to walk around at least once per hour. For more tips on preventing neck and shoulder pain, speak with a spine specialist.


Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Spine Surgeon

Dwight Tyndall, MD, FAAOS

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