You don’t have to be a time-hardened coal miner to suffer pain and injury while working. Like many people, I spend most of my day sitting at a desk staring into a computer screen. Though it may seem like an innocuous activity to the uninitiated, this type of repetitive — some may argue unnatural — act takes a toll on the body.
Extended periods of desk sitting can wreak havoc on your sciatic nerve and spinal column, all the way up to your neck and shoulders. Those of us who suffer regular neck and shoulder pain from this type of work are forced to address it sooner or later.
For me, the most effective tool for battling neck and shoulder pain while working has been to alter my desk configuration in a way that promotes good posture and better ergonomic habits.
What you need
If you’re a fellow sufferer of desk job aches and pains, these are the items I recommend for the optimum ergonomic setup.
Desk chair: I highly recommend the Simpli Home Chambers Office Chair. When it comes to posture, it’s important to have a chair with a firm back that can support you when your muscles start to tire.
Standing desk: The FlexiSpot MB3 Standing Desk is a platform that can raise or lower based on my needs, and it’s easy to adjust throughout the day.
Laptop stand: This ergonomic accessory prevents you from straining your neck typing with your hands too close to your chest, like a very confused T-Rex. My preferred model is the Nulaxy Laptop Stand.
Wireless keyboard: Putting your laptop on a stand is great for viewing the screen, but not so great for typing. That’s why you’ll need a wireless keyboard, like the SR Mini Wired Keyboard.
Posture wear: If you really want to get to the root of the issue, consider posture wear. This posture corrector from Truweo will pull your shoulders back to straighten your spine while you work.
Whether you work in a high-rise office building or out of a home office, it’s vital that you demand a good desk chair. After trying a few different options, I eventually landed on the Simpli Home Chambers Office Chair. Of any office chair I’ve used, this is the first that feels like it was made for me.
I also like that the Chambers Office Chair doesn’t have arm rests. They don’t usually fit under the desk, which causes me to sit further away from my computer, thereby straining my neck forward.
Ergonomic tip: Remember to adjust your chair’s height so that your forearms are perpendicular with the floor when typing on a keyboard.
Another issue that impacted my poor posture was a lack of variety in my working position. In recent years, many have come to realize the benefits of working in a standing position for at least part of the day. In order to accommodate this, I decided to try the FlexiSpot MB3 Standing Desk.
What I like about this platform is that I can adjust it at a moment’s notice using just one hand. Other standing desk platforms I used in the past either had multiple steps involved or required more force. I also chose this platform because of its wide 47” surface. I don’t always use all of the space, but it’s nice to have the option.
Although laptops offer incredible convenience in terms of portability, they can be very bad for your posture.
The solution to this common problem is an ergonomic laptop stand. Mine is the Nulaxy Laptop Stand. Coupled with the SR Mini Wired Keyboard and the aforementioned MB3 Standing Desk, this setup allows me to raise my laptop screen to eye level while my hands remain lower to work comfortably on the keyboard.
My final purchase to improve my posture and ergonomics was a posture correcting shoulder harness. I chose the Posture Corrector from Truweo, primarily to use when sitting at my desk. It’s padded and soft, and it does a good job of holding my shoulders back, which keeps my spine straight while working.
Causes of neck and shoulder pain
The main cause of neck and shoulder pain when sitting at a desk is muscle fatigue. As you sit upright in a desk chair, the muscles around your spinal column tighten. Once those muscles become sore, the adjacent muscles stiffen to pick up the slack.
This may make neck and shoulder distress sound like an unavoidable hazard of the job for desk-jockeys like us. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Importance of ergonomics
Ergonomics is the study of human efficiency in the workplace. To state it more simply, ergonomics concerns your body’s position in relation to the tools of your trade. For me, that means my body’s interactions with my chair, my desk, my computer, my mouse, and the occasional vastly overpriced coffee.