Posture and Headaches

woman's hand on face

Workstation Adjustments and Exercises Help Correct Postures

In the workplace, a habitually forward head and rounded shoulder postures can overload the ligaments and joints, and give way to neck pain and headaches. If you find yourself continually rubbing the back of your neck and shoulder, or if you have experienced headaches that are not related to any other medical issue, a few workstation adjustments may be all your need.

Workstation Adjustments and Ergonomic Corrections to Reduce Neck Pain and Headaches

  1. Ensure that the top of the monitor screen is at eye level. You may need to lower the monitor if you wear bi-focal glasses. If you have to tilt your head backward to view the screen it needs to be lowered!
  2. Control screen glare by using a glare guard, or adjusting the window blinds, or changing the workstation setup to accommodate your lighting needs.
  3. Use an adjustable document holder that is placed in front or beside the monitor and at eye level.
  4. Adjust your chair height so that your shoulders are down and hands touch the home row of the keyboard comfortably.
  5. Ensure that you have plenty of legroom and that your feet rest comfortably on the floor. If the chair has to be raised to accommodate the desk height, get a foot rest to place in front of your chair.
  6. You may need task lighting to view your work without a forward lean out of the chair. Both desk and floor lamp styles can do a lot in the way of illuminating the workstation.
  7. Use a telephone headset or speakerphone so that you are not cradling the telephone with your neck.
  8. Alternate your work tasks and functions throughout the day. Deliver a message in person instead of sending an email. Get up and visit the office next door instead of using the telephone.
  9. Change postures at least once an hour. Do some filing, stand while you are talking on the telephone, and take micro-breaks.
  10. Keep the computer’s mouse close to the body to avoid shoulder deviation. With the elbow bent, make a semi-circle on the work surface. Do not chase the mouse with full shoulder extension.

Take Mini-Breaks and Do Some Neck and Shoulder Exercises

Do 3 sets of 3 neck exercises 3 times a day – at morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks.

  • Push your shoulders down and pinch your scapulas together slightly; hold for 15 seconds; release; repeat three times.
  • Rotate head to the left and right, and hold each posture for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Do lateral cervical flexion (side bends) on right and left sides, holding each for 10 to 15 seconds. Hold the chair seat for a deeper stretch.
  • Shrug your shoulders slowly, up, back and down.

Additional Resources

These suggestions are intended for use as a resource to reduce your ergonomic and musculoskeletal disorder risks at work and at home. However, if you experience prolonged or severe signs and symptoms of a musculoskeletal disorder you may require a comprehensive ergonomic evaluation and/or medical evaluation or assistance.

You may find the additional help you require through various specialty providers including massage therapists, chiropractors, and acupuncture/acupressure professionals.