Five Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain

Many computer users complain of pain in their shoulders and necks. This pain is frequently triggered by poor posture and overuse of these muscle groups. Computer users often place their shoulders and entire bodies into awkward positions, such as slouching or holding shoulders in a raised position. While sitting at a computer, the goal is to maintain a natural, relaxed sitting position. These tips can help provide immediate relief of shoulder pain and reduce future discomfort.

  1. 1. Rest and Stretch: Give the tired muscles a break and stretch the tight muscle area. A significant break like 24 to 48 hours provides the most effective relief, but even taking a three minute break from your computer every hour can help significantly. The National Institute of Health recommends these shoulder stretches.
  2. 2. Apply Heat or Cold: Hot compresses increase blood flow and relax tense muscles; however, do not apply heat to an inflamed area. The application of cold packs can reduce inflammation and numb the pain; just remember not to place ice directly on the skin. Use hot or cold for about 20 minutes at a time and wait at least an hour before repeating treatment.
  3. 3. Restore Proper Sitting Posture: The ultimate goal is to maintain a neutral typing posture to prevent shoulder, neck and back pain. Your chair, as the basis for good posture, should be adjusted specifically to fit you. First, evaluate the back rest. Does the shape of the chair properly support the curvature of your lower back? A rolled towel or additional lumbar support can encourage proper posture and relieve muscle strain. Next, adjust the chair height to ensure that your feet rest flat on the floor. The back of your knees should also not touch the edge of the chair seat or pan. Finally, the armrests should be placed low enough that you can relax both arms and shoulders freely at your side during computer use.
  4. 4. Adjust the Work Space: A significant contributor to shoulder pain is the improper height and placement of your keyboard and mouse. When a keyboard is high, the user raises the shoulder keeping the muscles tensed. When it is too low, muscle strain is cause by reaching for keys or the mouse. An adjustable keyboard tray allows the freedom to properly position they keyboard one or two inches above your legs, just below your elbow height. A slight angle away from your body will help you relax your hands as well. Your computer mouse should be tight against the keyboard, at the same height and angle. A mini keyboard, that does not have the number pad, would bring the mouse in closer, reducing muscle strain.
  5. 5. Reposition the Computer Screen: To reduce bending and strain on your neck and shoulders, your monitor should be at eye-level. Consider a shelf to elevate your screen above the top of your desk or work surface.

Most of the shoulder and neck pain experience by computer users is caused by poor posture and overuse of these muscles. Resting and stretching the tense muscles can bring immediate relief, and if done regularly, can decrease future pain. But the best long-term solution is to restore and maintain good posture. Adjusting your chair and work space can bring quick relief and provide posture habits of that will benefit you for years to come.

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