Tips to avoid neck and shoulder pain when working from home

Travis Kluckhenn
by Travis Kluckhenn

Neck pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain is common enough amongst people who spend the majority of their work lives at a desk. In the current climate of nation-wide isolation due to COVID-19, working-from-home, and in the absence of ergonomically set-up work stations, we’re already seeing an increase in the number of people complaining of a sore neck and stiff upper back. In this Blog we detail a few tips to help ease the pain of working from home during this period. 


The Coronavirus is presenting a lot of problems globally, and having to share a home workspace with your family is just one of them. One of the trends we’re seeing in the clinic and during our online physio appointments, is an increase in postural-related aches and pain’s, particularly across the shoulders, back and up into the neck.


Prolonged sitting in an unfamiliar work set up, the absence of any ergonomic assessment or desk set-up, as well as less walking around the office to discuss issues with work colleagues, is leading to more postural stress being placed on the neck and shoulders, which leads to pain and discomfort.


Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy fix to these problems, provided you’re tuned in to what’s happening to your body.  


First of all, monitor height is absolutely essential. Getting the monitor height right so that you can sit up straight (or stand up if you have a standing desk) is the number one priority.


TIP: Place the top of your monitor at, or just a fraction below eye level.

This may mean grabbing those textbooks you haven’t read in 15 years and putting them under your laptop or monitor. Or if you’re worried about aesthetics, getting a monitor stand from officeworks.


If you’re using your laptop with it placed high up on textbooks, then you’ll need to attach an external keyboard and mouse. Otherwise you’ll end up looking like a T-Rex with your arms up around your neck. 


TIP: Attach an external keyboard and mouse to your laptop


When you get this set up right, you’ll still need to make sure you’re sitting up straight. Leaning forward while peering at the screen can become habit, which is a common cause of neck stiffness and pain across the shoulders, and can also cause headaches. 


TIP: Sit tall, with you bottom all the way to the back of your chair.

Poor posture working from home

And if you’re struggling to read your emails or SLACK messages from this position, then you may need to consider whether your eyesight needs to be tested. Difficulty seeing and reading text is another cause of poor posture. If you have glasses, make sure you’re wearing them. 


If you need any further advice about your home desk set up, you can find out more about our Online Physio Consults HERE.

If you’d like to chat to one of our Expert Physio’s and book an Online Physio Consult, you can do so by clicking BOOK ONLINE.