5 Tips For Avoiding Neck Pain From Online Teaching

5 Tips For Avoiding Neck Pain From Online Teaching

Over the last year, devices have been our saving grace and the bane of our existence. In a quarantined world, our computers and phones have kept us connected—and employed. But as many of us quickly found out, sitting for long periods is not ideal for our health and wellness. Teachers who normally racked upwards of 10,000 steps a day were whittled down to almost nothing as they began teaching online. No doubt, it only took a few days to discover that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a slew of health issues, not the least of which is neck pain. Tech neck—that painful burning and muscle soreness that you can’t seem to shake no matter how many head rolls you do. Ahead we’ll take a look at this literal pain point and offer some tips for avoiding tech neck from online teaching. 

What Is Tech Neck? 

According to eMarketer, the average adult spent about 3.5 hours on their mobile devices in 2019. No doubt that number has increased exponentially over the last year. 

As its name implies, tech neck is what happens when you’re continually hanging your head to use phones, computers, and other devices. Peering at computer and phone screens essentially forces you to bend your head and hunch your shoulders. The muscles in your neck contract in order to hold your head up. And as the minutes and hours tick by, your muscles become tired and sore from being in a “stress” position. Over time that stress can lead to pain and discomfort. 

Common signs and symptoms of tech neck include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Stiff neck
  • Shoulder pain
  • Muscle soreness and tension

Tips For Avoiding Neck Pain From Online Teaching

While circumstances beyond your control may require you to conduct your classes through Zoom or Google Hangouts, there are things you can do to avoid tech neck from teaching online. 

1. Raise your screen.

To avoid looking down for long stretches, raise your screen or monitor to alleviate the strain. The optimal viewing height will allow you to see the screen without bending or rotating your neck. When looking straight ahead, your eyes should ideally hit the top third of your screen or monitor. Having your computer at this height will also make you look better on camera.

Try this: Nulaxy Laptop Stand

Laptop stand

My husband purchased one of these for me last year, and it really was a game-changer. Prior to using this, my neck hurt, and my shoulders burned almost every day. Since buying this stand, I can’t say that I have had any of those issues. This laptop stand elevates your screen by a good 7 inches bringing it to eye level. It’s compatible with all laptops from 10-15.6 inches, and the open design allows for optimal airflow to prevent overheating; plus, it looks pretty sleek.

2. Invest in a good chair.

This might be obvious, but we’ll add it here as a gentle reminder. A good chair can make or break your remote work-life experience. And if you’re feeling the burn from tech neck, a poorly designed chair could be to blame. Ideally, you’ll want to look for an adjustable chair and one that offers good lumbar support. A comfy headrest never hurt anyone either. 

Try this: Furmax Ergonomic Mesh Desk Chair 

Avoid tech neck with a comfy chair

This office chair features adjustable lumbar support, you can tinker with the height to accommodate any desk, and it rotates a full 360-degrees (if you like that sort of thing). The armrest is also padded and adjustable, and the mesh back allows for plenty of airflow to keep you cool and comfy.  

3. Try a neck massage.

If your neck is feeling sore and stiff, a portable neck massager may do the trick. If you don’t want to spend your day explaining it to others, there are plenty of inconspicuous options on the market. 

Try this: Hunnay Neck Massager

Neck massager

This portable neck massager uses electrical pulses to relax your muscles and eliminate fatigue. It’s lightweight, skin-friendly, and also equipped with an automatic shut-off function. Plus, the slim design allows you to use it inconspicuously, and it operates quietly. 

4. Boost your back support.

If a new chair isn’t in the budget, you can always use what you’ve got and just kick it up a notch. For a bit more support (and comfort), try a lumbar support pillow. 

Try this: Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow

lumbar support pillow

Made from 100% memory foam, this pillow is ergonomically designed to support better posture and alleviate the back pain that accompanies long days at your desk. This pillow also features a breathable mesh cover that’s machine washable and dual adjustable straps, so it stays put and works with pretty much any chair. 

5. Switch to a standing desk.

Health experts advocate standing desks as a healthy alternative to a sedentary lifestyle. Increasingly, standing desks are being widely promoted as a way to keep chronic illnesses (like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) at bay. If you’re spending the lion’s share of your day sitting in front of a screen, you may want to try standing instead. An adjustable desk will give you plenty of flexibility to sit or stand throughout your day, and they’re a great option for avoiding neck pain from online teaching. 

Try this: Flexispot Adjustable Standing Desk

Standing desk

While this adjustable desk features a minimalist design, it brings a lot to the table. It’s fully adjustable so you can sit when you want and stand when the mood strikes. Even better, it’s easy to use with an electric lift system and a two-button control panel. The sleek design works in any space and a generous work surface gives you ample room for maximum productivity. Choose between black or white. 

While online teaching may just be a matter of necessity, it won’t last forever. In the meantime, there are things you can do to avoid tech neck while teaching online. You may have to invest in a few helpers for your remote work set-up but at the end of the day, it won’t be a pain in the neck.

Come connect with fellow educators in the Empowered Teachers community!

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5 Tips For Avoiding Neck Pain From Online Teaching

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Sharon Brandwein

Sharon Brandwein is a parenting writer whose work has also appeared on ABCNews, Parents, and Scary Mommy. When she’s not busy curating a wardrobe for her puppy, you can find her documenting her life as a writer on her website.

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