One of the main causes of upper back and neck pain is the desk – or rather, how you sit at it and for how long.
Generally, the longer you sit, the more you’ll slouch, causing your shoulders to roll forwards and your chin to poke out. If you have to look down at your screen you will slouch sooner. Over time, this position will produce tightness in your upper shoulders and, eventually, neck pain.
Given how many people spend most of their day at a desk, and their evenings sofa-bound, it’s no wonder this is such a huge and common problem.
Here’s a simple three-step solution to combat it:
1 Make sure your computer monitor is at the right height
If it’s not already, your monitor should be at eye level (a couple of phone books will often do the trick). This will keep your head up and your neck straighter.
2 Two simple stretches
a) Sit upright in your chair and place both hands on your chin. Keep your head straight and eyes looking forward. Push your chin back into your neck then release. You should feel a light stretch at the back of your neck as it straightens. Perform five repetitions every two hours.
b) Stand facing a corner, with your arms up to 90 degrees and your forearms vertically against the wall. Lean your chest in to create a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
3 A quick strengthening exercise
You’ll need a metre of red Thera-Band (available from your local physio or sports store). Hang it over a door handle and take hold of either end, palms forwards. Stand facing the (shut) door. Elbows straight, gently squeeze the lower part of your shoulder blades together and pull backwards on the band. Repeat 10 times.