Chances are, if you are a freelancer, then you probably suffer from some form of neck and back pain. You probably wake up stiff with your neck and your shoulders feeling like they’re bolted together in some uncomfortable way. When you stretch, it might sound like someone popping bubble wrap.
Yeah, it’s a problem and a common one at that. You’re not alone, and luckily there are ways to alleviate it. This article highlights some of the ways that can help you avoid this issue and go back to having a neck that doesn’t feel like it's made of scrap iron.
Why do freelancers suffer from back pain?
Freelancers suffer from back pain as a result of two compounding issues. Office workers and freelancers working remotely on a computer alike suffer from the nasty combination of often having sedentary lifestyles and having to sit hunched over in awkward positions. Sitting for long periods of time without mobility causes the build-up of pressure on the spine, leading to a number of issues.
These issues of course include having back pain, but other problems can include numbness and even increased difficulty standing or walking. Back pain is the scourge of people who work at desks, and it’s one of the most common medical issues that freelancers deal with. It’s no wonder the reason for office workers to often go to doctors seeking back pain relief.
The “tech neck”
Tech neck is another common problem that office workers suffer from. Tech neck is neck pain caused by continuous strain on the neck and injured neck muscles and other structures connected to the cervical spine. It’s called tech neck because it's usually tied to people straining their necks while looking at screens and monitors.
Some symptoms of tech neck include;
- sharp localized pain
- pain that radiates to the back and shoulders
- reduced mobility
Tech neck is a growing concern among desk workers generally because of poor posturing.
How to prevent back and neck pain?
Here we’ll discuss a number of ways that you can avoid back and neck pain while treating its symptoms. These methods will involve strategies such as finding gear that helps support better posture when working as well as activities that encourage movement like stretches. The key here is that you will alleviate some of the stresses your body deals with as a result of your working environment.
Don’t stay in the same position longer than 45 minutes
As we mentioned previously, one of the factors that cause this stress on your body is immobility. So when looking at methods on how to prevent neck and shoulder pain at work, you’ll commonly see stretching recommended. Stretching is a great way to get the body moving after it’s been at rest for a while.
Stretches, short walks, or even bursts of exercise are a great way to get your muscles back in action and keep active. Other exercises like yoga or pilates are great options because you can integrate quick sessions into your daily routine, providing you powerful stretches to help give you pain relief. Learning more about the causes and some simple exercises would help you attend to your body cautiously.
Buy an office chair and desk
If you’re going to be working at a desk, then you might as well make sure it’s a good one. One of the ways that these problems get worse is by people not having proper office chairs or using surfaces that aren’t suited to work on. Leaning over a desk is one thing, but imagine leaning over a small coffee table or sitting in a chair with poor back support.
So, if you can afford it, look to purchase a desk and office chair that suits your work habits. There are plenty of chairs that improve posture and support your back along with desks that make good workstations.
Use a larger computer monitor
How to prevent neck and shoulder pain at work? Well, the answer may surprise you, but using a larger computer screen can be the solution you’re looking for. Remember, one of the reasons for neck/back and shoulder pain from office work is the strain that we place on our necks. This is because often when using devices, we lower our heads and put our necks in a compromised position.
By using a larger screen and setting it at an adequate distance, we can reduce this stress. It’s important to make sure that the screen is positioned in such a way that you can view the monitor while keeping your neck straight. Your neck avoids the strain and you avoid the neck pain.
As before, large-scale vendors like Amazon and places that sell electronic devices are good places to start looking for monitors. Newegg is another option that you can use to also search for monitors.
Choose a standing desk to stay healthy
Standing desks are a good alternative to your traditional office chair. The reason being that it forces the body to be active in small ways. Your body needs to activate several muscle groups in order to simply just stand, and it allows you to avoid sitting with bad posture.
Remembering how to correct standing posture to prevent neck and back pain is the other key ingredient to this, otherwise, you’ll just be making a new issue. Try to keep your back straight and not slump your shoulders or lower your neck. Also, feel free to shuffle your feet or maybe walk in place a little as well to add a little activity to your routine.
View your computer screen with a straight neck
As we discussed before when looking at how to relieve upper back lower neck pain, good neck posturing is important. This is because lowering your neck to look at devices puts it under stress, and prolonged periods of this can cause significant pain. That’s why it’s important to have your devices placed in a position where you can view them with a straight neck. Something as simple as that is a good way to avoid back and neck pain.
Place your keyboard and mouse or touchpad at a comfortable height
Keeping your mouse and keyboard at a comfortable level for you is another thing you can do to eliminate neck and back pain. It comes back to having a good posture that you're comfortable with. This is because it keeps your body in a more natural position that doesn’t put your back and neck under unnecessary stress. So, make sure that you make your workstation comfortable enough to work at for long periods.
Limit the time you work on your bed
The unfortunate truth is that you shouldn’t spend a lot of time working from bed. The reason for this is that it’s difficult to maintain a comfortable and appropriate posture for your body. This is because beds are made mostly for sleeping or lying down, but lying down is a bad position to work from.
Instead of asking how you can work from bed, you should be asking how to sleep at night to prevent neck and back pain. The answer to that is rather complicated given people’s sleep habits and preferred positions, but one solution is to invest in an orthopedic pillow. They are designed to best conform to your body and so are a great way to help relieve neck and back pain.
When sitting, rest your feet flat on either the floor or foot support
This is another posture-related situation. Proper sitting posture has you placing your feet firmly on the ground with your knees positioned at a right angle (think “L” shaped) so that the weight of your body is evenly distributed across your hips. This helps prevent problems with your lower back. So be sure to either adjust your seating or find a footrest that you can use to place your feet on to ensure good posture.
Pay attention to your posture to protect yourself
Hopefully, this article has given you some helpful tips on helping avoid back and neck pain. Most of this boils down to good body posture and finding ways to promote it. Unhealthy habits put your body under stress and this leads to pain and discomfort while practicing good habits leads to wellness and healthy practices.
There are ways to help neck and upper back pain such as massages, yoga for back pain, or exercises for neck and shoulder pain, but if the problem persists, you should seek professional medical help. Take care of your body and it’ll take care of you.
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