It Took 10 Paperback Novels to Fix My Neck Pain

One of the instances where you realize the uplifting power of books.

This is definitely not a clickbait title. This is for real. 

I used 10 paperback novels written by Patricia Cornwell, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Clive Cussler, Cho Ramaswamy, and Douglas Preston to fix the neck issue I experienced earlier this week.

How? Before I tell you that, let's talk a little bit about my neck pain. 

Head vs. Head Weight - The Difference is a Few Degrees

Ever since I started working from home, I’ve been trying to fix on a proper location to set up my workspace. I have a work desk that has my desktop, but my wife’s using it since her company ran out of laptops when they announced the lockdown. 

So, I had no choice but to make the best use of other spaces in the house. Sometimes, I use the dining table, sometimes I sit on the bed, and sometimes on the floor with my laptop and headphones. 

But, what I didn’t realize was that for the entire five weeks I’ve been working from home, my laptop screen was not at my eye level. I often looked down at the screen while working (similar to how we tilt our neck while using a smartphone) and that had started causing a strain in my neck. 

The pain that was mild last week had increased in intensity earlier this week. I took my posture for granted and it came back to me in the form of severe neck pain. 

When I read about it, I was amazed by the science behind it. 

When your head is straight, it weighs 5.4 Kgs. But, when you tilt it by 15 degrees, the weight increases to 12.2 Kgs. And when you further title down to 45 degrees it weighs 22.2 Kgs. The more you tilt your neck, the heavier your head becomes. And, the neck is doing its level best to keep it together. 

But, our human body is not that fragile. Our neck is designed to withstand such tension for a considerable amount of time. But, imagine spending 6-7 hours a day (average) looking down at a device. By doing this, we’re pushing our body to its limits and this causes extreme stress to our neck muscles. 

Result? Neck and shoulder pain. This phenomenon is commonly known as ‘Text neck’ or ‘Tech Neck’ 

Text Neck is a real pain!

‘Tech neck’ or ‘Text Neck’ is the pain in the neck and its associated muscles due to prolonged usage of an electronic device in a poor posture. 

With almost everyone using some kind of a device these days, text neck is one of the leading causes of muscle pain and discomfort in adults.  

A report says that considering the current scenario, 75% of the world’s population would develop neck pain at some point in their lives. 

26% of affected individuals experienced a recurrence in less than 1 year. 42% of sufferers missed more than 1 week of work, creating large financial stress from lost wages and high cost of treatment. 

And, with limited outdoor activity and increased screen time due to the lockdown, we’re more prone to text neck than ever. 

It is a clear example of how changing our posture even by a few degrees can have a disastrous effect on our health. 

How did I fix it?

Similar to how changing our posture can have disastrous effects on our health, altering it by a few degrees can also improve it. 

To avoid text neck, try to keep your computer, smartphone, or a book at your eye level when you are looking at it. If you’re working from home and use a laptop or a desktop for 6-8 hours a day, adjust the height of your desk or chair so that your eyes are at the same level as the computer screen. 

In my case, I did not have a height-adjustable desk or a chair and I couldn’t get one since eCommerce delivery in India is currently restricted only to essential items. So, I decided to make a DIY-work desk. 

When I looked for things I could salvage from the house, I found the following:

  • A wooden plank from my old computer table (where we place the keyboard)

  • Bunch of paperback novels

  • A small table we had in the living room. 

  • Logitech K480 wireless keyboard (which I got to type on my iPad and phone at the same time! I don’t know why I’d wanted to do that)

  • Logitech M235 wireless mouse

I moved the table into the study room and placed it near the window. I took the wooden plank and placed it on the table. The idea is to raise the height of this wooden plank and place my laptop on top of it. So, I placed five paperback novels under the ends of the wooden plank. When I placed the laptop on it, it was right in line with my eye level. The space under the wooden plank is good enough to slide my wireless keyboard and mouse which I’ve been using to work on my laptop. 

This is super comfortable and has reduced my neck pain over the past couple of days. I’m planning to get a proper desk and a chair soon. But, until eCommerce becomes fully operational, my ‘paperback’ ed laptop stand is the only thing that is going to save me from getting a text neck. 

If you’re home and experiencing strain or pain on your neck, try to get a laptop stand and if possible a wireless keyboard for comfort. If not, try to make a DIY-desk as I did. 

Try to use things that you find at home. For example, you can even create a laptop stand by placing a vegetable chopping board on top of an old shoebox and place it on your working table. Simple solution, but could help your posture in the long run. Because, once this pain becomes chronic, it takes longer to fix it. 

Also, I found a couple of videos on YouTube that teach you a couple of simple stretches you can do to alleviate your neck pain. I tried it and it is very effective. Here’s a sample

So, fix your posture, and feel better!  

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