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Lose that pain in the neck

A desk job comes with its own hazards. Don't put your neck on the line.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 02, 2010 16:45 IST
Vidya Balachander

Poor posture is the scourge of our times. We spend more hours slouched in front of a computer screen than any previous generation. Not surprisingly, neck and shoulder problems have become increasingly common.

A study conducted among 101 employees of a multinational company by the Industrial Design Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, found that 23 per cent of the group suffered from neck pain and 10 per cent from shoulder pain.

Heena Garude, chief physiotherapist at Lilavati Hospital, says that poor posture is the root cause of all our neck and shoulder ills.

"When people are in a desk job, their position is no longer erect," she says. "The muscles supporting the neck get tired. The neck and shoulder slowly protrude." This 'protruded neck posture' can lead to stiffness.

Since there is no quick fix solution, you have be mindful of how you sit at all times. You can achieve this by replacing your chair with a stability ball.

"It forces you to sit upright and focus on your centre of gravity so that you don't fall," says Madhuri Ruia, proprietor of Integym, a fitness studio in Mumbai.

"It makes you totally aware of the position of your spine."

Precautions
Don't force the neck to move past the comfortable range.
There should be space around you as the ball may roll.
If you find it too difficult to use a stability ball at first, try using your bed or flat bench.
Keep your eyes open while doing these exercises as your vision will be an important part of maintaining your balance.

What size for me?
Hips and knees should be bent at 90° while sitting on a stability ball.
If knee to ground height is 45 cm then add 3 cm
So the 55 cm ball is suitable

Not just posturing
Your PC and keypad should be in the same vertical line.
Your keyboard should be located close to your body.
The keyboard should be level with your arms when bent at right angles.
The top of the monitor should be level with your eyes.
Take a walk after 30 minutes of computer use.
Don't cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder.