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How Do I Stop My Neck From Hurting When I Sit At My Desk?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

I have been seeing people in their homes for several months now and I have learned so much from my patients about what they need to learn. I am astounded by how much faster I can gather the information I need help solve their current problem and prevent future problems by seeing how they have their computer and desk set up. It becomes immediately logical why they are having the specific pain or movement problem they called me to help solve. In the old days I would have people describe what they were doing for the day. This information is sifted by what the person thinks might be important. Now, when I walk into a person's work station they sit down or stand as if working and I can filter what is most important and I have noticed issues that I may not have figured out otherwise or it would have taken longer. Here are 3 mistakes I picked up on quickly for clients that were easy to fix and help to solve their pain problem.

Mistake #1

Thinking you are committed to your chair

You have my permission to break up with your chair. If your chair is not working for you, kick it out. One client was working so hard to conform her body to fit the chair it was more work than getting rid of it and starting from scratch.

Your chair is simply something to put your butt on.

Your body needs to find a naturally neutral position to work from with active muscles in your trunk.

The single most important feature of a chair to actually work from is adjustable height. It is best to have the height of the chair such that you your hips are higher than your knees while the feet can be planted on the ground. This allows for an easier time obtaining a good pelvic and low back position as well as not closing down the knees and hips.

Mistake #2

Placing a second screen or device on your non dominant side

If you are using multiple devices or screens pay attention to how your are using your hands on keyboards and mouses. Your hands dictate where your shoulders rest, which is the base of support for your neck. If you have hands on one side of your body working a mouse and you are turning your head toward the other side of your body to see a different screen you will cause a problem in your neck. You have to think about where your hands and eyes spend most of their time.

One client was spending a lot of time with her dominant right hand on a mouse and keyboard on the left side of her body. Her eyes were simultaneously spending most of their time looking at the bigger screen in front of her. This created a compression on the right side of her neck and was creating her pain problem in her neck and shoulder. Simply by re positioning her second screen and making a point to make use of the right hand on the right side of the body she was able to calm her problem down very quickly.

Mistake #3

Placing work lap top on high top kitchen counter at chest level

When the keyboard and mouse we are needing to place our hands on for long periods of time is too high, we tend to overuse muscles in the shoulders and neck. It wouldn't take long to get sore in the shoulders from holding the weight of the arms against gravity while trying to mouse and keyboard. OUCH.

One client had her laptop on this high surface which was actually a good position for her vision and neck position but was a terrible position for her shoulders and arms creating a pain problem in her shoulder. Ideally, she should have a separate screen placed at the good height for her eyes and the keyboard on a lower surface a few inches above the thighs. This would require either buying a remote keyboard or a separate monitor for best positioning which is the inherent problem of always using a laptop.

Work smarter not harder.

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