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Why Your Neck Hurts When You Sit Up Straight

Why Your Neck Hurts When You Sit Up Straight

Many patients ask me, why does my neck hurt when I sit straight up? Today, I’m going to give you the same advice I give my patients, so it will help you avoid that nagging neck pain.

As a general rule, a postural strain may be the cause of your neck pain when you sit upright while sitting. Neck pain can occur for a variety of reasons,  including muscle imbalance or stress. A chiropractor will be able to examine your spine and help fix it if there is any problem.

While a lot of information on the web is pretty good, it does not present you with all of the essentials. First of all, I want you to understand why it hurts when you sit up straight? Then, they will show you what you need to do to prevent this pain. My patients who complain about their neck hurting when they sit up straight find my advice on sitting comfortably easier than you might think. 

8 Tips to Reduce Neck Pain When Sitting 

young woman with neck pain

  1. First of all, use a chair that has a supportive backrest and comfortable seat cushion.  
  2. Try to sit in the highest position possible while maintaining both feet on the ground.
  3. Again, sit with your feet flat on the floor – use a footrest if you cannot reach the floor comfortably 
  4. Keep your back straight, supported by the backrest.  
  5. Use lumbar support.  If your chair doesn’t have a lumbar support you can roll up a towel or use a small pillow behind your low back
  6. Move sure to sit with hips above the knees by tilting the front of the seat down or by sitting on a seat wedge
  7. If you have a decent office chair, use the ‘forward tilt’ when seated
  8. Depending on what you are doing, it is essential to pay attention to your environment and address any movements you need to make, which causes additional neck pain while sitting.

Fastest Way to Relieve Neck Pain

fastest way to relieve neck pain at work

  1. The preferred home remedy is to apply heat to the area to keep the muscles warm, alleviate any pain caused by postural strain, which is the leading cause of neck pain. Apply heat or ice to the painful area. 
  2. It is always wise to keep moving but avoid painful actions. Aim to move every twenty minutes or so so that complacent postures do not develop. Standing up and sitting down at the very least.
  3. Try gentle neck range-of-motion exercises, but remember to keep your chin tucked to avoid nerve or disc irritation.
  4. Lastly, anti-inflammatory medications are one of many ways that you can relieve neck pain fast. However, if you don’t know what to do, speak to a licensed medical professional. 

How to Sleep With Neck Pain

woman sleeping with neck pain

How should I sleep with neck pain is a commonly asked question with a straightforward answer? The arms at your side will help you sleep in a neutral spine position.2. Following that, sleep on your side with your head aligned straight with your spine and not leaning forward. I always advise people to avoid sleeping on your front as this can put additional pressure on your neck. 

You should also examine your pillow since thirty per cent of your sleep comfort comes from your pillow.  Whichever position you decide to sleep in, make sure you use a pillow that fully supports your neck.

Best Pillow for Neck Pain

According to Dr Sinead Moore PhD, ‘The right mattress isn’t the only thing that matters when managing your back pain while you sleep. The kind of pillows you use is often just as important for avoiding back pain.’ 1

Pillows that relieve pressure points and maintain a healthy head angle while at the same time being supportive enough will keep you comfortable wherever you sleep. Natural latex pillows crafted with a user-friendly design provide a comfortable sleeping experience according to research with a customer satisfaction rate of +93%.2 People who use latex pillows are happier than those who use feather or memory foam pillows. 

Furthermore, the 2009 study examined how sleep quality differed with various types of pillows. They examined how rested people felt when they awoke and whether they suffered from the pain the next morning. The study found that latex pillows were best for improving sleep quality and how people feel when waking up.

Moreover, if you want to sleep in a chemical-free environment, be sure to purchase a pillow that is made of natural materials. Your head sleeps directly on your pillow at least 6 hours a night. It is important to choose pillows made from natural material if you value your health, especially if you have young children who are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals. 3

Neck Pain Symptoms from Sitting Up Straight

sitting up straight neck pain

The effects of neck strain include muscle cramps, stiffness, pain, swelling, difficulty rotating your head in specific directions, difficulty holding your head in a particular position, and headaches depending on the affected muscles. To better understand the health of your neck muscles, it can be helpful to visit a chiropractor who can advise of neck stretches and corrective actions you can take to alleviate the symptoms.

How to Stop Neck Pain When Writing

Many people suffer from neck pain while writing for prolonged periods. To help with this, you need to take regular breaks from writing to ensure you are stretching the neck muscles and not holding them in the same strained position for too long. There are many neck exercises that you can do while writing that can help keep your muscles warmed up, and some are as simple as a few neck rotations. You can also try ear tilts to gently lower your ear to your shoulder and alternate between ears until your neck muscles warm up again.

Exercise and Neck Pain

There are many people in the world who have terrible postures that cause pain as they sit all day. The advice that many are given is to exercise more in order to correct this condition.  However, if your car was out of alignment, would you drive it to fix this issue?  The trouble is that we carry these dysfunctional postures with us to the gym. So before starting a vigorous exercise regime, make sure that you are correcting your sitting and sleeping postures first.

Final Thoughts…

Numerous factors can cause neck pain from sitting at your desk. The main reason is when you work at a desk, they conform to the station rather than make the workstation accommodate you. You may lean forward to see the screen better, or you may reach for your mouse or keyboard. 

Each of these actions can put your physical health at risk. Therefore, getting your pillow right will have the most benefit to you. The main thing to remember is that unconscious and complacent movement patterns will ultimately cause you to break down. 

By staying active and conscious throughout your day, your neck pain may fall by the waist side. I hope this article helps! Please share if you find this beneficial.

  1. Ariëns GAM, Bongers PM, Douwes M, et alAre neck flexion, neck rotation, and sitting at work risk factors for neck pain? Results of a prospective cohort study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2001;58:200-207.
  2. Neck pain and pillows – A blinded study of the effect of pillows on non-specific neck pain, headache and sleep Liselott Persson  Pages 122-127 | Received 19 Apr 2006, Published online: 11 Jul 2009
**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Medical Disclaimer: This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.


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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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