Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Best Tip to Stop Neck Pain for Writers

by Ginny Cruz 

Writers understand pain. They live with piercing stabs from rejection, dull aches from embedded insecurity, and throbbing neck pain caused by long hours at the writing desk. 

Most cases of neck pain in writers are caused or worsened by poor posture while writing. Most of us, nowadays, write on a computer. We sit staring at either a laptop screen (possibly balanced delicately on our laps) or at a computer on a desk. Either arrangement is usually a clue to why you experience neck pain while writing.

Poor neck alignment, such as when you look down for long periods, creates muscle fatigue and tension. Fatigue and tension can cause muscle spasms. One spasm often leads to two or more. This cycle can continue until you have multiple knots in the neck and shoulders. 

Muscle spasms occur when your muscle strains to the point individual muscle fibers tear. As a result, the muscle "tightens up" the surrounding fibers to protect from further tearing and damage. That "tightening up" is the spasm you feel. In addition, when a muscle tightens up, it creates chemicals (toxins) that also cause pain. 

If you've ever had knots in your neck or shoulders, you've probably applied heat and done a few stretches to feel better. Often this works because heat relaxes the muscle spasm and increases the blood flow to the area. More blood in means more blood out. As the blood leaves the painful area, it takes the toxins that cause pain. Therefore, fewer toxins equal less pain.

As a physical therapist, I know the best tip to stop neck pain is to prevent the muscle strain and spasm cycle from starting. The way to do accomplish this is to eliminate the poor posture that created the pain in the first place.

To make changes to your writing posture, begin by taking an honest assessment of your sitting position when you write. It helps to have someone take a photo of you from the side so you can see the posture of your neck. Are you looking down similar to how teenage texters appear? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Or are you craning your neck up a bit so you can see through your reading glasses? 

Most of us, myself included, need to make minor adjustments to the height of our computer screen to avoid looking down or up too much. Since I write at a desk using my laptop and wear progressive lenses, I place my computer on a stand three-and-a-half inches high. This height allows me to see my screen while looking straight ahead. 

Maybe you can use large books (I trust you have a few) to raise your screen slightly. Or you may need to raise your chair to look down to see your screen. It will take a little tinkering to get the ideal height. The best height is one where your neck is neither craned down or up.

Yes, this new position may feel different and may take some time to adjust to. However, the old adage is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing the strain in your neck muscles will prevent muscle spasms and pain from occurring. 

You may also consider the wide variety of adjustable computer stands on the market. Standing desks are also popular, and their height adjustability makes them an option that works for many. Standing up frequently also helps alleviate back pain (see my Tips to Keep Your Writer’s Back Healthy).

I hope this tip of adjusting the height of your computer screen stops your neck pain. With all the other pains we writers live with, at least we can do something to eliminate the pain in the neck.

Does neck pain interfere with your writing?

(Disclaimer: If you are under the care of a physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist for neck or back pain, check with them before beginning any exercise program. Again, this information is not prescriptive for your specific condition but only general education.)


Ginny Cruz, MPA, PT is a pediatric physical therapist, early intervention specialist, and award-winning author. Her writing encourages and teaches moms simple and effective ways to help their baby meet developmental milestones. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, reading, and camping with her husband. Find out more at ginnycruz.com, Instagram, or Facebook.

Featured Image: Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash


  1. Thank you, Ginny, for your helpful tips. I purchased a standing desk a while ago, and it has made a big difference for me.

    1. Thank, MaryAnn. I've thought about getting a standing desk because I'm more productive and mentally more alert when I'm standing.

  2. Ginny, you gave me the best tip with what you use at your desk. It was a face-palm moment of "Of course!!" Thank you so much!

    1. I know what you mean! I have many face-palm moments. Lol

  3. Replies
    1. Maree, you are most welcome. I love helping writers!

  4. Ginny, you are so right! I bought a riser that tilts my laptop at just the right angle. That, along with my desk that I can raise and stretching exercises, allows me to look straight at my laptop! It has really helped with the neck pain!

    1. Patricia, you have done a lot to help yourself get out of pain. Congratulations!