Friday, 3 August 2012

Neck Pain From Keyboarding

An ideal workstation for keyboarding


ere’s the situation – you’re working on a computer (i.e. data entry in an office environment; essays at school or at home).

You begin work at around 9:0o a.m. By 9:30 you’re still fresh. By 10:00 you’ve lapsed a little…but you’re still there. By 10:20, the muscles at back of the neck are beginning to tighten up. 10 minutes later, those same muscles are beginning to get sore. Yet you haven’t moved, haven’t changed position. No choice:  the work has to be completed!

By 11:00? – neck pain and/or the onset of a headache.

I’ve witnessed this so many times in an office environment. People ask me while rubbing their necks: “What have you got for a stiff neck?”

I immediately show them some pain relief points, a few simple stretches and some easy methods of massaging the muscles of the neck. That usually helps in the short term.

A constant pull of 8 to 10 lbs. on the neck and shoulders


If they really want to solve the problem, they have to assess the way they sit at their workstation – and change the poor habits that they happen to uncover.

Poor posture often leads to pain in the shoulders and neck. For example, at 9:00 a.m. our backs are straight and we’re generally feeling fresh and ready to go. But as the minutes pass, and we become involved in our work, our heads tend to lean toward the keyboard.

The adult head weighs somewhere between 8 to 10 lbs. If the head is tilted too far forward, the muscles of the neck contract hard to maintain that position. As the minutes pass, that contraction leads to muscular overload, resulting in fatigue and pain.

It’s more difficult nowadays to readjust your posture. Much of our work is done on laptops so we’re forever looking down at both keyboard and screen. (As evidence, watch folks work on their computers at your nearest coffee shop).

She's checking the internet about neck pain


The following are some suggestions I’ve given people –

1.   Maintain proper posture if you can. The back should be straight yet relaxed, the head up, with the eyes looking straight ahead. (If you have a laptop, place it on some type of a platform. The closer to eye level, the better!)

2.   Look away from the screen and/or take a 1 minute break every 20 minutes. Establish that as a rule. When you do take a break, stretch your shoulder and neck muscles. When you resume your work, do so with a return to proper posture.

3.  While you work, periodically stretch your neck. Turn your head slowly to the left while massaging the right side of the back of your neck down and across the right shoulder. Then turn your head slowly to the right and massage the other side.

Aside from maintaining good posture, stretch and massage often

Source: steadyhealthcom

4.   Also as you work, do the “chin tuck” – with your back straight, tuck your chin down into your throat and hold to the count of 10. This also stretches the neck muscles back to normal length. (Muscles shorten – and tighten up – as they try to maintain poor posture for long periods of time).

5.   Lastly, perform some shoulder manipulation on yourself. As you keyboard, slowly lift your right shoulder and hold as high as possible. 20 seconds minimum please. Then stretch it back as far as possible. 20 seconds again. Then stretch it down the back…and so on. Please hold each position for a minimum of 20 seconds. Now switch over to the left shoulder and do the same series of stretches. You’ll be rebalancing and reinvigorating your entire neck and shoulder area, getting the benefits of some exercise – while you work!

Let me know if this works for you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!


  1. I found that for neck pain and laptop usage that opening the laptop fully and standing it on its end meant less stress for my neck. It does mean you need another keyboard though. Propforward sell something that does it but I just used a few books and it worked fine.

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for the comment. I like your idea of propping up the laptop with some books!

  3. Hi from Ukraine, Kyiv. I just wanna to say that i like your article espessialy exercises. Thanks.

  4. Hi Igor,

    Thanks for the comment. It's good to hear from folks in Ukraine. Please keep in touch.


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