Ask the Expert – Dr. Izzy Lira – November
Q: Could you provide some tips on preventing neck pain while I’m working on the computer? What treatment do you recommend?
A: The average adult head weighs about 8-12lbs, so a significant amount of force needs to be generated by the neck and shoulder muscles to hold your head up. After a period of time, this amount of effort will cause fatigue and pain. If you get soreness across the base of your neck and across your shoulder blades, it is likely that you start to slump forward as the day goes on. Tiredness and poor posture causes “poking chin”, the position where your head falls forward and the neck and shoulder muscles have to work 3 times harder to hold it up.
There is no exact science to prevent neck pain while sitting since there are always new ideas and differing opinions. There are, however, various recommendations as to the ideal distance between your eyes and the monitor, and the perfect angle for your elbows and knees.The key to protecting your neck is posture, keeping your head and neck in a neutral position that maintains the natural curve of your cervical spine. You should be able to read your computer screen without reaching your neck forward. Adjust your chair so that your computer screen is at eye level and directly in front of you. Your elbows should be resting on an adjustable armrest and your arms should reach your keyboard comfortably. Your feet should be flat on the floor and the back of your chair should be in an upright position. Above all, be aware of forward head lean and keep your shoulders from rolling forward.
It’s also important to avoid staying in one position for long periods. Whether you feel pain or not, I recommend getting up often to move and stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Relax your arms and roll your shoulders back in a circular motion. Gently move your head from side to side, feeling the muscles in your neck and back stretch and relax. If you feel mild pain, stretch a bit more and focus on sitting correctly. When moderate pain is experienced, I recommend a chiropractic examination to determine overall range of motion in your neck and an evaluation of your overall posture and spinal alignment. If there any areas of restricted movement, I may recommend a few treatments to help your body heal, such as spinal manipulation or electro-stimulation therapy, which uses a low frequency electrical current to stimulate neck muscles. Spinal manipulation and spinal adjustments can restore normal range of motion, relieve pain in the soft tissues, increase circulation, and stimulate the body’s nervous system. These tips and treatments will help prevent neck pain from returning. And as always, see your chiropractor or doctor for more information!
A Doctor of Chiropractic, Izzy Lira is also a strength and conditioning specialist.