Neck and shoulder pain
Aches, pains and muscle soreness in the neck and shoulder area are very common, especially among office workers and people who experience a lot of stress. When you have not experienced an injury or trauma that can explain the neck pain or shoulder pain, it is often described as “myalgia”. Myalgia is pain from muscles that may be tired, overstrained or otherwise affected. But how can your muscles become overworked when all you do all day is sit and type on a computer?
What causes neck and shoulder muscle strain?
Many people do not know that when you sit and write all day, many of the muscles in the neck and shoulder area are constantly at work. Even if it is not heavy work, 8 hours 5 days a week with static and repetitive movements will result in a high total load which can overload your muscles. Stress will also over time be stressful for the muscles. Experiencing stress activates tension in your muscles as part of a fight-or-flight response, and your muscles end up being “active” almost constantly. Without enough rest, the muscle becomes overworked.
- Aching or burning sensations in the shoulders and neck
- Feeling of soreness or tightness in the muscles
- Some may feel that they have reduced movement in the neck
- Some may develop tension headaches
What you can do yourself?
Many feel the need to stretch and stretch the muscles as it relieves shoulder pain or neck pain. Unfortunately, it will only help for a short period of time, since the real problem is not tight muscles. The problem is that your muscles are working overtime. The total load the muscles are exposed to during a day or a week is too much for the neck muscles to handle. The solution is to either reduce the load on the muscles, or increase the muscles’ ability to withstand the load.
To reduce the load, you can:
Try to deal with the stress you are experiencing. Perhaps this comes from expectations you place upon yourself? Pressure can come from many sources, for example: being a great parent, a loving spouse, desire to stay fit, perform well at work, have a tidy home. It’s understandable that sometimes things may get too much to cope with, so consider coping strategies: is there someone you can speak with to explain your feelings? Being out in fresh air and the natural environment has been shown to reduce stress considerably; simply getting out for a walk a couple of times a week can help de-stress.
Remember to take breaks from the computer screen regularly during the day. Even doing some simple exercises with an exercise band for 1-2 minutes every hour or going to talk to a colleague can help.
Many people have heard that they should sit with a straight back and with their arms resting on the desk to prevent neck pain or shoulder pain. Sitting for a long time in the same position will make your muscles ache, no matter how ergonomically correct your posture is. In fact it is probably more true to say that your next position is the best position; in other words, try to vary often during the day to reduce the risk of neck pain or shoulder pain.
To increase the muscles’ ability to withstand the load, you can:
Make your muscles stronger! Try some strength training 2-4 times each week. It doesn’t have to take all day, choose 3-4 exercises for the neck and shoulders and do 8-12 repetitions and 3 sets. Make sure you increase the load or resistance each week to increase strength. Be patient, it usually takes up to 10-12 weeks to notice a significant difference.
Try our solutions
Trigo physios have developed a range of simple routines that can help manage or avoid neck pain and shoulder pain; download the free Trigo app, fire it up and give it a go!
Contact a health professional such as a physiotherapist or a doctor:
- If you experience a severe headache
- If you feel that the pain gradually worsens over days or weeks
- If you have other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, malaise and/or fever, talk to your GP as soon as possible
- If you have taken measures to reduce stress and strain, and you have been doing strength training for a few weeks without noticing a difference. Treatment by a physiotherapist can then be helpful.
This is a very common problem. If you do nothing about the cause, the condition will most likely come and go from time to time. If you make an effort to reduce stress, reduce the overall load on the muscles and increase muscle strength, you should notice a difference within a few weeks.