Working at a computer for many hours every day causes muscles to tighten up and tire. This can lead to pain in the neck and shoulder and can even cause referred pain into the head and face – so-called cervicogenic headaches.
Here at Sundial we have developed a series of exercises to help. They are so easy you can do them at your desk and around the office without attracting too many funny looks!
Doing these exercises before aches and pain start is a good way to prevent discomfort from building through the day. You can do these exercises 3-5 times each day. Remember to keep breathing throughout and avoid pulling or pushing too hard. You should feel a gentle stretch but little or no discomfort. If you do feel pain during or after doing these exercises then see your local chiropractor. If you are in Brighton we’d be happy to offer you a free check to make sure everything is alright and you are doing the exercises properly.
Hold your right hand behind your back
Bent your head to the left
Hold 30 seconds
Levator Scapulae Stretch
Grab your head with your right hand
Pull your head forward and to the right
Hold 30 seconds
Suboccipital Muscle Stretch
Press on your chin with your hand until you feel a stretch on your upper neck
Hold 10 to 30 seconds
Pectoral Muscle Stretch
Hold your right forearm on a door frame with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your arm parallel to the floor
Step your right leg forward
Hold 30 seconds
Push your arms forward as if you wanted to separate your shoulder blades to the maximum
Anyone who has suffered from regular headaches knows how unpleasant and disrupting they can be. Many headache sufferers find it difficult to concentrate, to work or even carry out simple activities without feeling grumpy.
Jamie came to me here at Sundial because of six years of headaches that were affecting his work and his life with his partner. And things were getting worse. A recent increase of the frequency of the episodes made him realise he had to do something.
Headaches can be bad enough but Jamie’s symptoms started a journey all of their own. His pain was travelling from his neck to the top of his head on one side and travelling down to the shoulders and to between his shoulder blades. He would always have the headaches during the week and only found respite at the weekends. A stressful day at work or being on a computer for long period of time was increasing the pain to unbearable levels so even painkillers were ineffective
Jamie has a job with a lot of responsibilities in a big company and needs to manage a team. He spends a lot of time sitting in meetings and even more staring at a computer screen. Stress is a constant feature in his work.
When Jamie came to see he was keen to end this agony. After an examination I found that some of the joints in his neck were stiff and not moving correctly. The surrounding muscles were in spasm and were very sore to the touch. It was clear that Jamie was suffering from headaches caused by referred pain from the neck – so called cervicogenic headaches.
In Jamie’s case the dysfunction has been triggered by his repetitive poor posture, especially sitting at the computer for long periods of time.
Successful treatment begins
I started to treat Jamie for cervicogenic headaches, by addressing the cause. As a chiropractor I worked on the muscles of Jamie’s neck and shoulders applying gentle pressure to relax the muscle tension. I also used my hands to increase the mobility of his neck joints using gentle pressure.
But Jamie had to bring some change in his life as well. Here are the tips I gave him and it could help you too to deal with your cervicogenic headaches.
Hard at work? So is your back. New research reveals working causes neck and back pain for people in the South East of England.
As part of the British Chiropractic Association Chiropractic Awareness Week (13 – 19 April) Matthew Bennett from Sundial is urging people to take regular breaks at work to help combat neck and back pain.
The advice comes as new research from the back and spinal care experts finds of those who have suffered from back and neck pain, working is a cause of the pain for almost a third (30%) of people in the South East.
More than half (52%) think that sitting in the same position for long periods at a time has the most negative impact on their back health. Despite recognising the source of pain, almost one in ten (8%) of those who spend the day mainly in one position don’t take regular breaks.
Matthew Bennett from Sundial Clinic in Brighton says “If you work in an office or drive a vehicle for long periods of time, it’s easy to stay seated, rarely taking breaks. Many people are unaware that staying in the same position can place unnecessary strain on their neck and back which can lead to long term pain.”
“Sitting causes up to twice as much pressure on the spine as standing. If your job involves sitting for long periods of time, it’s important that you take regular breaks to relieve the built-up tension in your lower back. Your back is always hard at work – even when you think you’re relaxing – so ensuring you move and stretch regularly will help relieve the extra load through the discs which will prevent long term problems, keeping your back on track.”
In the South East, 41% currently live with neck or back pain – and more than one in five (22%) suffer on a daily basis. So what can we do to combat neck or back pain at work?
Sundial offers the following top tips to help people get through the working day back pain free:
Sit up straight: Relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Keep arms relaxed and close to the body and place on the desk when typing. For drivers; the back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.
Be computer compatible: Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way.
Take regular breaks: Don’t sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time – stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little. If you struggle to get away then take time to gently massage the back of your head and neck as you relax your stomach region with slow easy breathing. This will help to improve posture and reduce back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
Drink Up! Try drinking water instead of tea or coffee; it will be healthier and keep your body hydrated.
For more information on how to maintain a healthy posture and help keep neck and back pain at bay, call Sundial Clinics, Brighton, Queens Road 01273 774114 or St James’s Street 01273 696414 for a Free Posture Check.
What are the commonest causes of back and neck pain? Surprisingly most people don’t mention strenuous exercise but sleeping and sitting as their commonest causes of neck and back pain.
A new survey asked people throughout the South East about their neck and back pain. 76% said they were currently experiencing pain in the neck or back or had done so in the past. 43% said that sleeping caused their problem whereas 44% said sitting was also a trigger.
With 4 out 5 people spending 6 hours or more in front of a computer screen and 19% spending 4 or more hours in front the the television it could be that modern lifestyle is to blame for these high figures for neck and back pain.
As part of Back Pain Awareness Week (6-12th Oct) we are raising awareness about this issue and encouraging everyone not to take it sitting down. By being more active you can drastically reduce neck and back pain. Understanding how to sit properly and keeping active will help improve posture, strengthen muscles and therefore reduce neck and back pain
TOP TIPS for maintaining a healthy back and neck:
Sit up straight – keep arms relaxed and close to the body and place arms on the desk when typing. Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Workstation help.
Keep moving – if sitting in the same position all day take regular breaks – ideally every 30 minutes. It’s good to stretch your arms, shrug your shoulders and move your fingers around – this helps to keep the muscles more relaxed. RSI treatment and prevention.
Switch off – try to limit the time you spend leaning over you mobile devices or with your laptop on your knees especially after a day spent in front of a screen, to help improve your posture and relieve neck strain.
Sleep easy – test out your mattress before you buy it to find the perfect one and lie on your side rather than lying on your front with your neck twisted to one side. Mattress help.
For more information on how to maintain a healthy posture, here is a simple, three minute exercise programme for all ages, designed to help strengthen the spine and improve posture and help joints. To watch a video of the exercises you can do, please visit: http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/straightenup.
If you have a neck or back problem you might like to see one of our Brighton chiropractors or physio’s then call 01273 774114.
Research was commissioned in January 2014 on a sample of 2006 UK adults.
*Sample of 408 adults from the South East responded to the question ‘have you ever suffered from neck or back pain’ and 312 adults from the South East responded to the question ‘how often do you suffer from neck or back pain’.
Neck pain is remarkably common with nearly half of us suffering at one time or another. Worst of all it keeps coming back. Many different types of treatment are currently used so which ones should you choose if you have neck pain? A recent review into the best ways to treat neck pain has just been published and it makes interesting reading.
Manipulation or mobilisation are good treatment options for neck pain especially when combined with laser therapy and advice, stretching and specific exercises. Massage can be helpful in combination with other forms of treatment but not on its own. This package of care is what our chiropractors and physio’s do here at Sundial.
The treatments that don’t have evidence of working for neck pain include TENS machines (is anyone still using these?); traction and trigger point therapy (a form of deep pressure on tender tight points in a muscle).
These findings are broadly similar to the Bone and Joint Decade (BJD) Task Force report on neck pain in 2008. In this report they go further by recommending acupuncture and pain killer medication. The list of treatments unlikely to help for neck pain are the same but go on to advise against surgery, collars, ultrasound, most types of injection into the neck and radio-frequency denervation.
The BJD report offers some helpful advice about choosing the right sort of treatment for a bad neck. Don’t expect to find a single “cause” for your neck pain. Stay as active as you can, reduce mental stress and try over-the- counter pain relievers first. If pain persists then seek treatment form a practitioner with the right sort of expertise. The authors conclude that no one treatment is likely to help everyone and you may need to mix and match approaches to find what works for you. Any treatment should show some improvement in your symptoms within two to four weeks. If not try something else. This advice also applies if you have mild whiplash from a road traffic collision for instance.
So what are the main points from these two reports? Two groups looking at neck pain independently have come up with very similar recommendations. These recommendations are also similar, as you might expect, for other spine related problems like back pain. Conservative treatment is best, you have to help too by doing the home exercises and keep going to find what works for you.
These messages are a big relief to the thousands of people who endure regular neck pain.
Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. Bryans R, Decina P, Descarreaux M, et al. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2014; 37: 42-63.
The Bone and Joint Decade 2000- 2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders; Executive Summary, (2008), Haldeman S, Carroll L et al. Spine 33(4S):S5-S7
Our professional approach, gentle treatment and the great care we take of our clients have helped us become a centre for excellence – and the Brighton back pain clinic that people most prefer.
Many people believe they will have to put up with back pain when in fact, prompt treatment can cure back pain for good. Call us today for a free check to see how our back pain treatment works and if we can help you. We can also help with leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain and headaches too. Even arthritis pain can improve with the right treatment.
At Sundial Clinics we work hard to find out what is wrong. That’s why we have physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and Pilates trainers to help you.
Most of our clients come from Brighton, Hove and Kemp Town but many come from around Sussex as we are close to Brighton railway station. We are so confident that we can help you find the pain relief and better health you want, that we offer all our clients a money back guarantee.