How to reduce neck and back pain at work 

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How to reduce neck and back pain at work

Screens are essential for work and leisure. We really can’t live without our screens and if you work in an office environment like a call centre, chances are you are in front of a screen from the moment your shift starts until the time you wave goodbye to your colleagues each day.

But being on a screen all day can cause problems. They can hurt our necks and give us headaches, and upper back pain, and we may even get shooting pains running down our arm.

You know some Gen Y’s are now entering the workforce with existing injuries and children as young as 15 are showing posture related early arthritic changes due to high screen use.

It’s a worry!

So, what do we do?

Thankfully there is a really easy solution. Do these four little things every day, and you will feel benefits way beyond a pain-free neck.

Ergonomics, Stretching, Aerobic, Strength

Ergonomics – For all screens, try to maintain good posture. Pull your head up from your crown, your ear should be over your shoulder, and your chin tucked in. Become aware of time spent looking down.

Stretching – Regularly release tension in your neck and shoulders. Roll and consciously drop your shoulders. Gently rotate your head up and down, and then side to side.

Aerobic – Exercise is great for neck pain. Walking releases tensions, facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.

Strengthening – a targeted program to strengthen the muscles of the neck and shoulders girdle is the most reliable way to reduce neck pain. To beat chook neck (forward neck posture), the research team recommends four exercises. The front raise, side raise, reverse fly and shrug (See illustrations below). Slowly build up to a 20-minute a session, three times a week, over a period of at least 10 weeks.

Four exercises to reduce neck and back pain at work

Front Raise – With elbows slightly flexed, raise one arm at a time to shoulder height directly in front of you.

Lateral Raise – With elbows slightly flexed lift both arms out to shoulder height.

Reverse Flies – Sit bent over forward with back straight. Let your arms hang straight down, then raise to shoulder height.

Shrugs – While standing, let your arms hang by your side. Then lift both shoulders as high as possible.

Call centre exercises to help reduce neck and back pain

These 4 exercises will help you avoid neck and back pain from looking at a screen all day.

How to get started

  • Start with no weights and one set (10 reps) for each exercise, twice a day.
    • You will probably hear and feel a little pop and crackle. This will be normal as you start to release tension and build strength.
    • HOWEVER, if you feel any pain, you should immediately stop and consult your doctor or physiotherapist.
  • Slowly build up the number of sets until you reach your 20-minute routine.
    • Then start to add low weights.
  • Build new habits around normal daily routines. Pick two or three times a day to become natural triggers. Mine are
    • After my morning shower
    • Before I eat lunch
    • When I get home (keys down, shoes off, shoulder exercises and consciously relax)

This snippet is a summary of research-backed recommendations to help you take care of your neck and prevent neck pain and injury.

We all have to take care of our neck, and now is a good time to start. Check your posture and relax your shoulder. Do it now!

Liz Kirk (PhD) on EmailLiz Kirk (PhD) on FacebookLiz Kirk (PhD) on LinkedinLiz Kirk (PhD) on Twitter
Liz Kirk (PhD)
Owner and Principal Trainer | Beyond Ergo
Absenteeism cost the national economy over $32.5 billion in lost wages and productivity every year and call centres record second highest rate of sickies in Australia.

I help companies reduce rates of absenteeism and increase profits by building the modern health and wellness skills staff need to flourish in the 21st Century workplace