Office jobs being a pain in the neck?
In recent years, there have been lots of attention being drawn to the effects of office jobs on the human body. Up to 60% of office workers suffer from neck or shoulder pain every year -- which is marginally higher than any other profession. With millions of dollar spent on research to help postural correction, and office ergonomics, there's a lesser known way of dealing with work-related neck pains -- and it has the scientific background to support it.
You guessed it: Exercises
In 2017, the American Physical Therapy Association and the South African Journal of Physiotherapy both found that targeted neck/shoulder exercises were the most effective means of improving pain and quality of life.
It also showed that stretching, and general fitness exercises alone, were minimally effective in long term pain relief -- meaning that you can be physically strong, with a physically weak neck.
Okay so which exercises do I start with?
Depending on your presentation, exercises will differ from person to person. Below are a few exercises you can do daily at your work desk.
1. Chin tuck
Rest your head against a flat surface ie. wall, and push your chin directly backwards towards the wall, making a double chin. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and release.
2. Gentle Range of Motion
Making sure your shoulders are away from your ears, gently look up, down, side to side and tilt your head to either sides. Hold each position for 5-10 seconds.
3. Upper Trapezius Stretch
In sitting, rest your hand behind your back and tilt your head to the opposite side. Using your free hand, gently rest it on the upper side of your head. If this stretch is too much, leave the hand by your side. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
These exercises, if done daily, are helpful in minimising the frequency or severity of desk-related neck pain. As always, if symptoms persist, see your local health professional.
If you have any questions, at Physio Physique, we are always here to help you.
Chen, X, Coombes, B, Sjogaard, G, Jun, D, O' Leary, S & Johnston, V
2018, "Workplace-based Interventions for Neck Pain in Office Workers: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," American Physical Therapy Association, vol.98, no.1, Pg: 40-62
Louw, S, Makwela, S, Manas, L, Meyer, L, Terblanche, D & Brink, Y 2017, "Effectiveness of exercise in office workers with neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis," South African Journal of Physiotherapy, vol 73, no.1, a392, http://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v73i1.392