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Do you… 

  • Sit at your desk for more than 8hours a day?

  • Often feel that your shoulders are tensing up as you type away at your keyboard rushing to meet those deadlines?

  • Lean forward to squint at your monitor?

  • Have a nagging ache in your neck no matter how many times you rub your neck and shoulders in order to alleviate the tension?

Do not worry, you are definitely not alone!

Research has shown that up to 60% of office workers experience neck pain and they are 2-3 times more likely to develop chronic neck pain as compared to the general population. [2,3] While office ergonomics may help, a combination of specific neck and shoulder strengthening exercises are more effective. [1]

What causes neck pain then?

  • Work environment

  • Repetitive work

  • Long hours of sitting with minimal breaks in between

  • Poor posture (Forward head)

  • Psychosocial factors

  • Stress

  • High job demands

  • Lack of physical activities

Signs and symptoms that you have chronic neck pain

  • Upper back or neck pain

  • Worse towards the end of the day

  • General shoulder pain and tightness

Treatment by our physiotherapist

  • Soft tissue massage to reduce muscle tension

  • Joint mobilizations to reduce joint stiffness

  • Neck and shoulder exercises

  • Ergonomic advice

Here are some tips to manage neck pain on your own

What may work:

  • Sitting ergonomics (Seat height, arm rest, keyboard, monitors, mouse positioning)

  • Taking breaks. Motion is lotion, try not to sit for more than an hour or two at a stretch

  • Neck stretches

What will work:

Small benefits

  • General physical activities (walking, running, cycling)

Most effective

  • Targeted neck and shoulder strengthening exercises to be done 3 times a week, 20 minutes per session, over a period of 10 weeks

  • Ensure you are not arching your back while lifting the hand up

  • Front raises

  • Side raises

  • Shoulder shrugs

  • Reverse fly

Start being more active today to better manage your nagging neck pain!


  1. Chen, X., Coombes, B., Sjøgaard, G., Jun, D., O’Leary, S. and Johnston, V. (2017). Workplace-Based Interventions for Neck Pain in Office Workers: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Physical Therapy, 98(1), pp.40-62.

  2. Hush, J., Michaleff, Z., Maher, C. and Refshauge, K. (2009). Individual, physical and psychological risk factors for neck pain in Australian office workers: a 1-year longitudinal study. European Spine Journal, 18(10), pp.1532-1540.

  3. Louw, S., Makwela, S., Manas, L., Meyer, L., Terblanche, D. and Brink, Y. (2017). Effectiveness of exercise in office workers with neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. South African Journal of Physiotherapy, 73(1).

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