Why your computer can cause neck pain

Do you tend to suffer from headaches or neck and backaches from computer work? If so, checking your posture may help, researchers say.

Sitting at a computer with jutting head forward to look more closely at the screen compresses the neck and can cause fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, increased muscle tension and can even lead to injury to the vertebrae over time.

It can even limit the ability to turn the head, the researchers explained.

“When your posture is tall and erect, the muscles of your back can easily support the weight of your head and neck — as much as 12 pounds,” said Erik Peper, Associate Professor at San Francisco State University.

“But when your head juts forward at a 45 degree angle, your neck acts like a fulcrum, like a long lever lifting a heavy object. Now the muscle weight of your head and neck is the equivalent of about 45 pounds. It is not surprising people get stiff necks and shoulder and back pain,” Peper added.

For the study, published in the journal Biofeedback, the team first asked 87 students to sit upright with their heads properly aligned on their necks and asked them to turn their heads.

Then the students were asked to “scrunch” their necks and jut their heads forward.

Ninety-two per cent reported being able to turn their heads much farther when not scrunching.

In the second test, 125 students scrunched their necks for 30 seconds. Afterwards, 98 per cent reported some level of pain in their head, neck or eyes.

The researchers also monitored 12 students with electromyography equipment and found that trapezius muscle tension increased in the scrunched, head forward position.

The researchers suggest to check posture and make sure the head is aligned on top of the neck, as if held by an invisible thread from the ceiling.

Other solutions include increasing the font on your computer screen, wearing computer reading glasses or placing your computer on a stand at eye level, all to make the screen easier to read without strain.

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