Guest Blogger: Samantha Langan, Occupational Therapist MSc. (OT)
Addressing Neck Pain in the Workplace
Text Neck—are you guilty? A recent article in the-two way by Laura Sullivan discusses the posture adopted by many people when leaning over a cellphone while reading and texting. This bad posture can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on the upper spine — sometimes for several hours a day, depending on how often people look at their devices.
And it isn’t just texting. Believe it or not, holding the upper body still and sitting in an upright position, as is required when spending time sitting at a desk for long times such as working at a computer, requires a lot of effort from our muscular systems. There is an invisible but constant battle against gravity to maintain the head in an upright position, at the optimum distance from the screen, combined with maintaining one’s arms in the proper typing position increases the static load on our body, especially the neck and shoulders.
The Institute of Work and Health reported that neck pain related to work is one of the most common complaints of working aged adults and in 2006 it was reported that injuries to the upper extremity account for 30% of lost-time claims in Ontario.
There are often some commonly occurring culprits in the office that lead to poor postures and over time, fatigued bodies and resulting neck pain. Some of these culprits include:
• Non-adjustable workstations
• Workstations that are not properly designed or not well suited to the individual
• Lack of knowledge and experience on how to set up and adjustable workstation properly according to the worker’s needs (being sure to consider the worker’s body and their job tasks)
• Unsuitable job design that requires workers to sit uninterrupted for longer than an hour at a time
The good news is that many of these issues can be addressed through prevention. Some great tips for adjusting work stations to prevent neck pain include:
• Making sure that your monitor is directly in front of you and does not require you to look to the side
• If your monitor is too low, raise it with a book or another solid object
• Use split screen to read two documents at once while reducing neck rotation