Twisting your neck sideways, bending forward, scrunching your phone in between your shoulder and ear and” text neck” all place an unhealthy amount of strain on the muscles of your neck, shoulders and upper back.
These are just some examples of bad habits that place us at risk of neck pain and injury. Do the situations below look familiar?
Turning your neck to face your monitor
If you aren’t sitting squarely in front of your monitor, chances are you’re using your neck to compensate. The more your head is angled, the greater your risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Ask yourself “Does my monitor really need to be off to the side?” If you desk doesn’t allow you to square your chair to the corner, your monitor probably shouldn’t be there either.
Regardless of the reason that your monitor is off to the side, an alternative solution can always be found. Solutions exist for every situation and yet low awareness might be keeping you stuck in a very unhealthy setup.
Looking down at your desk
Bending forward to look at your desk or keyboard strains your neck and shoulder muscles. The harmful effects are both short and long term just like when you turn your neck to the side. In this case, the amount of strain on your neck is directly related to the angle of forward bending. If you spend a lot of time reading documents, you should raise them on a document holder parallel to your monitor.
The Shoulder-Neck Scrunch Phone Hold
This is a common posture used to keep your phone by your ear without using your hands – you scrunch your shoulder and bend your head to the side, forcing the phone against your ear. The shoulder-neck scrunch is a disaster – it strains not only on your head, neck, shoulders and upper back, but all the way down to the middle of your spine. A headset is one way to avoid this position.
Much as when you bend forward to look down at your desk, your neck is doing most of the work when you hold your phone below shoulder height.
Yet this is the position we often assume when we step away from our desks – supposedly a time to give our body a break and change positions.
Text Neck Syndrome is avoidable. I recommend that you don’t use breaks from your desk to send text messages. Breaks are the time to move your body in healthy ways. It’s a good idea to install apps for messaging on your computer so you can text without looking down at your phone (or your keyboard).
The avoidable result: neck pain
Any of the behaviors behind neck pain and injury look familiar? It’s never too soon to increase your awareness and improve your postures and work habits. Change your habits and you should notice a dramatic reduction in neck pain.