Returning to work doesn't have to be a pain in the neck, from Harvard Medical School

The return of fall means a return to work and school for many people. And the resulting hours spent at the computer can trigger neck pain. A combination of stretching and strengthening exercises plus proper body position at the computer can minimize the risk of neck and shoulder pain, says a new report from Harvard Medical School. The Neck and Shoulder Pain Special Health Report gives important tips on how to protect your neck with exercises and good ergonomic posture at your desk.

For example, you can take control of your body posture by setting up your chair, desk, and computer to encourage healthy neck and back positioning.

  • Set the monitor directly in front of you so you can see it without hanging your head down (monitor too low), tilting it back (monitor too high), or thrusting it forward (monitor too far away).
  • Use an upright paper holder so you don't have to bend to read papers on your desk.
  • Set your keyboard at a height to help you maintain this upright position and not hunch up your shoulders or lean over to type.
  • Never hold the telephone between your head and shoulder. Use your hands, a headset model, or a speakerphone.
  • Keep your upper back and neck straight and your head positioned directly over your neck.
  • Use armrests to support your forearms.
  • Slide your buttocks far back in your chair.
  • Set your chair height so you can keep both feet flat on the ground.

Also in this report:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises to protect your neck and shoulders
  • Common causes of neck and shoulder pain
  • Managing neck pain
  • Athletics and your neck
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