Stiff neck and shoulders? You may need a monitor stand.

A monitor stand (or “monitor riser”) could be the cure for your stiff neck.

An incorrectly positioned monitor is only one possible cause, but a stiff or painful neck is a common complaint among computer workers. Are you one of them?

Read on to find out more.

Need For Monitor Stand Is Poorly Understood

There is a trend among computer workers: When it comes to ergonomics, most people are happy with the idea of adjusting their chair, but may forget that they also need to adjust their monitor.

Time and time again, I see colleagues who are looking down on their screen, instead of viewing it straight on. This places neck muscles under continual tension and those muscles can end up feeling sore, by the end of the day.

In my experience, employers often have a poor understanding of the issue. Bosses are generally content with getting new employees to fill out a workstation assessment form, but it is usually a tick list exercise, with no real training involved. Consequently, very little is done until the employee is experiencing significant discomfort.

Experience Without A Monitor Stand

I had exactly this problem when I started work at my current company. I adjusted my chair so I could type comfortably, but because I am tall, the screen was well below my eye line. I put some paper underneath the monitor to raise it up a little, but within a short space of time, my neck and shoulders were aching.

Thankfully, I got a monitor stand ordered and a few days later, it arrived. Within minutes of setting it up, I could feel the difference. A few days later and my neck was back to normal.

But why does a low monitor have such an impact?

Impact Of A Low Monitor

The problem with having your monitor too low, is that it’s not just your neck that’s affected. Looking down at your screen puts tension on the back of your neck, but when one set of muscles are tense, then nearby muscles tend to tighten up too.

Looking too far down at your monitor means that:

  • Your neck muscles have to work hard to hold your head in place
  • After a couple of hours, your neck begins to stiffen up
  • With a bit more time, your shoulder muscles get tight too
  • Eventually, you’ll get tension developing in your arms

When you get up from your desk and find your upper body aching, you need to take action, but first you’ll want to find out if your monitor height is the culprit.

Fellowes Monitor Stand

How To Check If You Need A Monitor Stand

Here’s how to decide if you need a monitor stand.

  1. Make sure your chair is properly adjusted
  2. Sit upright, but relaxed in your chair and look straight ahead
  3. Adjust your monitor up or down and check the following:
  • If your eye line meets the top 1-2 inches of the screen then your monitor is set up correctly
  • If you are looking at the middle or bottom of the screen, then it’s too high and you’ll need to lower it
  • If you are looking over the top of the screen then it’s too low and you’ll need to raise it
  • If you are looking over the top of the screen and you’ve already raised the monitor as high as it will go, then you need a monitor stand

“If you are looking over the top of the screen and you’ve already raised it as high as it will go, then you need a monitor stand”

Monitor Stand Conclusion

When I look at other people’s work environments, an incorrectly placed monitor is the second most common issue I see (badly adjusted chairs are the first).

If you have a stiff neck and particularly if you’re tall, looking down on your monitor may be the cause and adding a monitor stand could make all the difference.

Question: What difference would a monitor stand make to your neck and shoulders?

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