Reducing the chance of neck ache when sitting at your desk

As we've mentioned before, you put your body under an awful lot of strain when you’re sat at your office desk in the same position doing the same things day in and day out. As you sit there hunched over your computer, you’re concentrating wait on certain parts of the body that aren’t used it and by not moving, you’re not giving your muscles the work out they need.

One the areas that people feel it the most is in the neck. It begins with an increase in tension across the back of the shoulders and can eventually lead to stiffness. Some people complain that they can’t even move their head or even type. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of lost production hours if this is happening across the country. It’s in every organisation’s best interest to do something about it and luckily, it’s fairly easy.

If you’re already suffering some pain then you need to do something about it quickly so here are a few simple exercises that will hopefully loosen up the shoulders a little. Remember to ask your GP before doing any exercise, especially if you’re currently under medication, are infirm or are pregnant.

Shoulder Shrug

Grab two cans of soup out of the office kitchen and hold them in each hand. Stand upright with your neck straight and then simply shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.

Repeat this ten times.

Shoulder abduction

Holding the same cans at your sides with elbows slightly bent, extend the weights out to the sides until your arms are straight and parallel to the floor. Hold for a couple of seconds, then relax.

Repeat ten times.


You can do these at your desk so nice and easy. You’ll probably look a bit strange though, might be worth warning your colleagues.

Left and right ear stretch – lower your right ear towards your right shoulder, hold for ten seconds, then raise until your head is upright before lowering your left ear to your left shoulder. Repeat.

Left and right rotation – slowly turn your head so you’re looking over your right shoulder, then return to centre before turning to look over your left shoulder. Try to stay in each position for ten seconds. Repeat.

Nose against the window – rotate your face as if you’re drawing a circle on a pain of glass.

If you follow this routine in the morning and at night and then at any time during the day, it should help to relieve the stress on your neck, but always stop if you feel pain at any time.

Stop the pain to start with

Obviously we ought to be stopping the pain before it starts, so here are a few things you can do to make life easier on your body when sat at the desk.

Laptop stand

"Laptops are inherently unergonomic--unless you're 2 feet tall," says physician Norman J. Marcus and he’s on to something here. Laptops are big business and most people will own one rather than a desktop PC because they’re just so portable. However, they force you to work in an extremely uncomfortable position for a long time, so you need to do something about it.

A laptop stand can help by lifting the screen up to a position seen on most health and safety posters rather than you looking down all the time.

External keyboard

Keyboards on laptops are usually terrible. An external keyboard can be inexpensive and allow you to move around the desk a little rather than being stuck in one position all the time.

External mouse

The touch pad on most laptops is an awful way to navigate around the screen. It forces you into uncomfortable positions and you should really get yourself an external mouse.

In Summary

As with most things, common sense should prevail and if you find yourself suffering pain after a long day at the office then you should seek help. Working shouldn’t be painful!

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