How To Stop Your Phone Hurting Your Neck |

How To Stop Your Phone Hurting Your Neck

By Tim | Ergonomics

Oct 31
Painful neck at your desk? It may be how you use your phone.

Computers can be a pain in the neck, sometimes literally.The classic image of busy offices is that of Big City stockbrokers, who watch multiple screens while performing numerous tasks.

These are fast-paced, fast-talking people, squeezing their phones between one ear and their shoulder, but there’s a problem.

Holding your phone in the crook of your neck may seem convenient but it can cause pain and discomfort. Using this position consistently over a period of days or months can also lead to other health issues.
If you work with computers and need to telephone colleagues or clients, then you face the same issue. Here are some strategies to avoid this common problem and keep your neck and shoulders discomfort free.

Hold The Phone

Working as I do in a customer service environment, I experience this issue on a regular basis. I need to communicate with my clients every day via email and telephone.
Email is easy, I just type out my message and click send. However, at times I need to take a more personal approach and I have to talk on the telephone while I type or use my mouse.
Making every effort to sound natural to my client, I try to hold the phone by my ear with one hand, while resorting to two finger typing with the other.
After a few minutes, stiffness can develop in my neck or shoulder. I end up swapping the handset regularly between ears and hands. There has to be a better way.

Ways To Stop Neck Pain From Your Phone

The good news is that there is a better way. Here are 3 possible strategies to get around the problem:
  • Get a headset
  • Use the phone speaker
  • Write notes on paper

Get A Headset

If you’re spending a lot of time on the phone, then one of the best ways to avoid neck pain is to get a headset or hands free kit. This leaves both hands available to type or use the mouse, while keeping your head straight and avoiding any awkward angles on your neck.
A USB headset can be as cheap as £15 ($23), so you can either buy one yourself or your employer may be able to provide one for you. They are available in USB and wireless models, so it should be easy to find one to suit you.

Use The Phone Speaker

If you have a phone with a built in loud speaker, then you have another good alternative to holding the handset next to your ear. However, make sure you are able to use it in a separate room or that your colleagues are happy to deal with the extra noise.
In my experience, phone speakers work reasonably well, as long as you can adjust the volume easily. Of course, this may not work if you need to discuss confidential information and have no access to a meeting room. That’s where pen and paper comes in.

Write Notes On Paper

Plantronics Headset on Amazon

If you can’t get a headset or find them uncomfortable, then the next best thing is to avoid typing with one hand. And the best way to do that is to use good old fashioned pen and paper.

Scribble down any notes you need with one hand while you discuss things on the phone with the other. Then type up your notes or take any necessary action after you put the phone down and can use both hands again.

Don’t Squeeze Your Phone In The Crook Of Your Neck

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t squeeze your phone between your neck and your shoulder. This is a terrible position to put your body in and sets up muscular tension on both sides of your neck.
Even when you’re holding the handset in your hand, there are potential perils.
Use the strategies outlined above to keep your neck in good shape and you’ll have one thing less to worry about in your work environment.
Discussion Question: How do you avoid a painful neck in your office?

About the Author

I'm Tim Bader, founder of and the Ergonomic Toolbox training course. I am a writer, author, blogger and church leader, and I help people to overcome RSI and live comfortably with technology. When I'm not writing, helping or training people, I live at home with my wife, two teenage kids and Playstation.