My Neck Hurts!

comic-chairAs I have mentioned several times already, I am in “writing mode” right now. Most days, I sit in my comic book reading recliner (doesn’t everyone have one?!?) and I ‘tap tap tap’ away on my laptop. With a cup of coffee resting on my figured maple Shaker Table, you’d think this would be a pretty sweet setup. Well, I discovered the hard way that this wasn’t exactly the best way to sit and write. It took me a few days to determine that this new pain in my neck and upper back was because of the way I was sitting in the chair. Apparently leaning back while keeping your head vertical isn’t good…..duh. So I persevere and push through the pain, only I now support my head with a pillow. And this, my friends, is what we call a 1st world problem. Here’s hoping all of your 1st world problems have easy solutions!

Category: Musings


  1. You gotta love a problem that can be solved with a pillow…

  2. Kevin February 1, 2013

    I get that from leaning over the workbench/[insert tool of your choice] for too long. Maybe I’ll try strapping a pillow to the back of my head.

  3. I know your pain Mark! One thing I found helped a lot is to elevate the laptop a bit. Even 4-6″ will help, and they make lap desks for that, but I found a pillow would usually do the trick (if you can find another one…)

    If you try it with a pillow, be aware where your laptop ‘breathes.’ You don’t want to block any vents on the bottom, but it’s nothing that a carefully selected piece of 1/4″ plywood on top of the pillow wouldn’t fix.

    Keep trying different things out. You’ll find something that works, and don’t forget to take breaks!

  4. Sean February 1, 2013

    Nothing worse than a stress headache from doing this. It sucks for sure!

  5. Robert February 1, 2013

    This is all part of getting OLD :P

  6. Adam Wachter February 1, 2013

    I even made my own wooden laptop lift station that turned into a monitor stand, gotta protect yourself man!! Trust me, I’m a PT, I see too many people every day with the same injury

  7. Roger Kugler February 2, 2013

    Ya, you’re getting old enough to starting figuring out – you’re not as young as you used to be!

  8. I’m going to be “that guy” and point out safety issues. I’ve worked in IT for over a decade and type ALL day. Ergonomics is not something to take for granted. As a woodworker with carpel tunnel, I can tell you it SUCKS. After long sanding sessions I have to wear braces on my hands for the next few days.

    If you are doing a lot of typing, sit at a desk, use a real keyboard at the correct height.

    PS I would love to see a guild build of a large home office desk, preferably in ribbon sapele :)

  9. In resonse to some who have correctly pointed out that you are getting older, while that is indisputably true, it does beat the alternative. And while you are getting older (a very good thing!) there is a neck support pillow that you might want to check out. It is a “U” shapped pillow that some use for air travel comfort. The non-inflatable, home versions have a “memory foam” covered by soft fabric composition and might give your head the support it needs to lessen the pressure you are putting on your neck. Less geeky-looking solution: you could put the laptop on a little table in front of your chair.

  10. Cal February 3, 2013

    You’ve done well to identify the problem and do something about it early. Two years back, I ignored a similar problem until I collapsed in pain in the middle of the night. The culprit turned out to be a small protrusion of the disc between C5 and C6 which was being pinched. The resulting pain radiated down my right arm until it felt like my triceps had been ripped out by a carnivore. It took six months of medication, physiotherapy and corrective exercise to manage the problem.

    I tell you my story only for the lessons you might extract from it. First, early intervention can save you from much more severe pain. Second, physiotherapists can show you exercises which will help in managing the pain. You may also want to look at how you sleep and the pillow you use. Finally, you may find you need to forego reclining altogether. During my rehabilitation, I had to sit very upright on our sofa, with a pillow behind my back to prop me up even straighter. A few months ago, we bought reclining furniture, and in the past couple weeks, the pain has returned. My prime suspect looks a lot like yours – typing on a laptop while reclining.

    Take that all for what it’s worth.

  11. Bo Sweeney February 6, 2013

    You should build yourself a standup desk for writing. I am finishing two – one for the computer and the other for writing, both of which are destined for my office. Standup desks are all custom for the user, since they depend on the height of the user’s elbow for proper ergonomics. Also, it would make a great Guild project.

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