How to Prevent the Common Neck Pain


Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms we see with clients at Focus Pilates and about 4 out of 5 of these cases are work-related. More specifically, the common neck pain is mainly due to poor working habits at the desk.

Most of us, even with the healthiest and fittest body, are not built to sit or stand for long periods of time; our bodies are made to move (except when you are asleep, but even then, we still move, just not consciously). That is why it is unrealistic to expect ourselves to be able to sit at a desk for long hours at a time, on a regular basis, and get away with it.

The good news is, it does not take much for us to do to prevent this common neck pain. To start off, here are two simple tips you can follow:

1)      Take a 2-minute break every hour and perform these three easy stretches:

  • Seated Upper Back Stretch
    Sit upright at the edge of your chair, palms flat on your desk, feet on the floor. Focus on your shoulder blades. Keep your arms straight as you pull your chest forwards towards the desk by gently squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then reverse the movement by pushing your chest away from the desk and allowing your shoulder blades to spread apart across your upper back. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up towards your ears. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Cat-Camel stretch
    Remain seated upright at the edge of your chair, with palms flat on the desk and feet on the floor. Keep your arms straight and round your chest away from your desk; allow your spine to curl into a C-shape, but be careful not to shrug your shoulders. Reverse the movement by arching your back and reaching your lower ribs towards your desk. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Trunk Rotation stretch
    Continue in the same seated position as the other two exercises. Keep one hand on your desk as you open the other arm out to the side and reach towards the back of the room, allowing your head and chest to rotate with the arm, but your hips should remain still. Repeat on the other side. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Like with learning any new routine or habit, it will take some effort in the beginning, but after practising for a week, it should become a lot more natural.
Top Tips to make it work: 1. Set an hourly alarm on your mobile phone or calendar. 2. Get a stretch buddy to remind each other on the hour. 3. Stick a post-it or sticker on the side of your monitor as a reminder.

Please note: exercises should be pain-free when performed. If you have any pre-existing neck or back conditions or are unsure of any of the exercises, please contact us to make an appointment with one of our qualified physiotherapists.


2)      Check your work station ergonomics 

  • The seat should be at a height where your feet can be comfortably rested on the floor or on a footrest.
  • The chair should be close enough to your desk that your elbows are almost touching the side of your ribs when you are typing, writing or using the mouse. If necessary, position your keyboard and mouse closer to you (i.e. closer to the edge of your desk).
  • Top of your computer/laptop screen should be level with your eyes.

Click here to read more on setting up your work station properly. Follow the checklist and start stretching!


– Max Teong, Physiotherapist

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