Working from home can cause all sorts of disruptions to your normal routine. But aside from children interrupting your Zoom calls and roadworks distracting you from a deadline, there’s also the aches and pains that can come with a makeshift desk set-up.
Recent research by the Office for National Statistics has found that homeworking has become a way of life for almost half (46%) of British workers since the pandemic began, with more of us logging in from our kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms.
Understandably, working from the sofa can take its toll on the delicate network of bones, ligaments and muscles in your neck. Dr Roger Henderson (doctorhenderson.co.uk) gives us some tips for treating mild pain and stiffness in the area…
1. Try some neck exercises
Dr Henderson says neck exercises can help treat and prevent neck pain by strengthening the muscles in the area.
“If you wake up to find your neck has stiffened up, just moving the neck side to side and doing some gentle circles with your head can really help to loosen up the area,” he says, adding that stretches, alongside over the counter pain-relief, can help you get moving normally, and safely, again.
Other simple exercises include slowly tilting your head to your chest and back to a neutral position again, tilting your head to gaze left and then right and pushing your chin forward to stretch out the throat area. Always be careful not to overstretch.
2. Apply a hot compress
Applying heat to a painful neck can help to loosen sore, tight muscles. “If you find you’re prone to low-level neck pain, then a hot compress that can go into the microwave and get draped around your neck can really help,” says Henderson, noting these are widely available from most pharmacies. “Warmth and heat are a very good way of relaxing out the neck muscles,” he adds.
3. Consider acupuncture
If homeworking is causing chronic low-level neck pain, Dr Henderson says it can be worth exploring the possibility of having some sessions of acupuncture.
“Acupuncture can be extremely helpful, as it’s one of the very few ‘natural alternatives’ that has a degree of evidence behind it.” Henderson adds the application of fine needles can be extremely helpful in just easing out trigger points in knots and muscles.
If you have neck pain that continues for more than a week, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, Dr Henderson says you should speak to your doctor.
It can also be helpful to ask your employer to arrange a home working risk assessment, so you can get to the root cause of the problem.