How to Sit in an Office Chair to Avoid Neck Pain?

If you work for long hours sitting at your desk like me or just watching TV for long hours, you are most likely to suffer from neck pain at some point in your life as I did. How do you sit in an office chair to avoid neck pain?

Here are some tips for avoiding neck pain while sitting in an office chair:

  • Adjust the monitor height
  • Take a break once a while
  • Limit the time of looking at the screen
  • Consider buying a neck pillow
  • Get an office chair with vital ergonomic features
  • Adjust your office chair properly

Ahead, I’ll discuss these six tips in greater detail, and I will also recommend some products that will make your life easier along the way. I will also talk about how to reverse it if you already have neck pain and improve your posture concurrently.

Six Useful Tips to Sit in an Office Chair to Avoid Neck Pain:

Adjust the Monitor Height

The first tip for you to avoid neck pain while sitting on your office chair for long hours is to adjust the height of your monitor.

If you are working at a desk, you must have a monitor on your desk for sure. Looking at the monitor at an improper angle for a long hour causes discomfort in the neck muscles, and this leads to serious neck pain.

Most monitors these days come with adjustable stands. Just make sure the display is slightly under your level of the eye. If it isn’t, then try to lower the monitor so that your neck muscles do not get strained easily when you look at it.

If the stand of the monitor is fixed, you can adjust the seat height of your chair or the height of your desk.

Also, don’t keep the monitor on the left or right side of you so that you have to look left or right to see the display of the monitor. Keep it straight in front of you.

If you follow this tip, you will be able to avoid neck pain for sure.

Take a Break Once a While:

This is an obvious but really effective tip that you must keep in mind.

According to a recent study, scientists have found a positive correlation between working for long hours at a desk in a specific sitting position and neck pain. According to the study, sitting at your work for more than 95% of the time is a significant risk factor for neck pain.

This study suggests if you sit for long hours and work at a stretch at your desk, the chances of getting neck pain increases. So, taking little breaks between working sessions is highly recommended.

As I have noted earlier, I have also experienced neck pain in the past. I have seen that taking a break once in a while works like a charm for me.

I use an app called Pomodoro, which I have downloaded from the windows app store. This reminds me to take 5 minutes of break every 25 minutes. During this break, I do anything other than sitting.

I believe taking short breaks also improves my overall productivity at work and also helps me to avoid neck pain. You should try this too.

Limit the Time of Looking at the Screen

During my break at work, I used to look at my PC or mobile screen. I didn’t know that this can promote neck pain at that time.

Maybe you have noticed that people tend to bend their heads forward while looking at a screen. Sometimes I notice myself doing that.

I did a small survey asking people if they also lean their heads forward while looking at the computer or mobile screen. The result was a bit disappointing.

Let’s look at the illustration below:

Recent studies have shown from time to time that looking at a screen while bending the head forward compromises posture and causes neck pain.

More than 73% of the people said they often bend their heads forward while looking at the screen. I am sure that most people don’t do that willingly. This strains the neck muscles badly when you do it.

I feel like this is an involuntary response for me when I keep looking at a screen for a long time.

That’s why I recommend you to limit your screen time whether you look at a computer screen or mobile phone screen, both are bad for you, so try to lower your screen on time.

Consider buying a neck pillow

Whether you are working at your desk for long hours or you are on a long drive with your friends. After sitting for hours, you will notice that your neck begins to ache, and sometimes the pain becomes unbearable.

I faced this issue several times. The office chair that I used in the past did not provide enough support for my neck and head as the headrest was not adjustable.

Also, recently I went on a long road trip with my friends, I noticed my neck begins to ache after sitting for a few hours.

So, I got the idea of a neck pillow from a friend, and when I used it, I felt great and relieved from the neck pain.

If you’re looking for a neck pillow, I quite like this one from Bcozzy on Amazon.

While under stress and working for hours at your desk, you will surely begin to feel discomfort around your neck.

Using this neck pillow will make a huge difference in comfort, and you will be able to avoid neck pain while sitting on your office chair. This trick worked for me really well several times.

Get an Office Chair with Vital Ergonomic Features

Sitting at your desk all day can cause various physical issues like back and neck pain. If you want to learn more on this topic, check out our article: What Happens When You Sit at a Desk All Day?

As I was saying about physical issues that arise in the long run from sitting for prolonged hours, the most common issue is neck pain.

A good ergonomic office chair provides good support for your head and neck through an adjustable headrest and minimizes the chances of developing neck pain.

If you want to learn more about ergonomic office chairs, I would like to suggest you to read this article of mine, What are Ergonomic Office Chairs and When Are They Necessary? 

If you are looking for a decent ergonomic office chair which provide good neck support, you can check out my recommendations here.

Adjust your office chair properly

I have read some scientific studies on office chair ergonomics and found that most people don’t know how to properly use all the adjustable features of an ergonomic office chair. Most people only use seat height adjustment.

This is sad but true that people are not taking advantage of the features like adjusting headrest, armrests and seat width that comes with modern office chairs.

If you want to avoid neck pain when you sit in your office chair make the following adjustments:

Adjust the Armrests:

Consider lowering the armrests. If the arms of the chair are higher than usual, then this puts pressure on your shoulder and neck muscles when you put your arms on them. So, lowering the arms might allow your shoulder and neck to relax better.

Adjust the Headrest:

Make sure the headrest is providing enough support for your head. If your office chair has an adjustable headrest, adjust the height and angle of it and find which position better suits you.

As everyone is different and the height of every person is not the same, the adjustment needs to be well customized for everyone.

Adjust the Backrest:

I personally feel that when I recline the backrest around 100 degrees, instead of sitting straight at 90 degrees, I feel better support for my head and neck.

This helps me to avoid neck pain. You can try this too if the backrest of your office chair is adjustable as well. 

Exercises to Reduce Neck Pain and Improving Posture:

If you are already suffering from neck pain, there are some exercises that I have found particularly helpful, which I am going to share today.

Check out the following exercises if you are suffering from mild neck pain:

  • Chin Tuck: This exercise stretches your neck muscles, which is also helpful in fixing the forward head posture issue, as per some physical therapists. All you have to do is pressure your chin and move it backward and forward for 10- 12 reps. You can do this while sitting at your desk.
  • W stretch: This exercise is helpful for both your neck and back. To do this exercise, you have to raise your hands (not wholly) while your elbows are bent, forming a W shape with your upper body. Then put pressure on your back, breathe gently for one or 2 seconds, and then get back to the initial form. You can do 5-10 reps of this a day, and you will be able to minimize neck and back pain.

Check out this video of a physical therapist below so that you can follow the exercises properly:

Related Questions:

Is Looking Up Bad for Your Neck? Looking up for a few minutes is okay. But If you are looking up for a long time then, you might experience stiffness of neck muscles if you keep looking up. Also, if you feel neck pain after looking up and the pain doesn’t go away after a few hours, consider contacting a therapist.

Can a Chair Cause Neck Pain? Yes, sitting for long hours on a chair can cause neck pain. Back and neck pain is very common among people who have desk jobs as they sit for 6-8 hours regularly.

What Causes Neck Pain? The most common causes of neck pain at the skull base are Muscle strains, compression of nerves, worn-out joints, and several diseases that cause neck pain. [Source]

Before You Go

Sitting for long hours is not healthy for people of any age. Our life has become more sedentary than ever, and neck pain is one of the consequences of sitting all day.

So, try to move more and sit as much less as possible. That’s all for today. I hope this article was helpful.

Asif Iqbal

Hi, I’m the co-owner of officechairtrends.com. I had spend hundreds of hours researching on Office Chairs. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned about office chairs.