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Stiff Neck and Working From Home

Working at office vs Working from home

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck Malaysia, WFH, or Work From Home, has become quite popular among Malaysians. During the Movement Control Order 2020, the government has ordered people to stay at home and work (MCO). Many Malaysians have started working from home since 2020. The goal of WFH is to break the coronavirus chain among Malaysians and reduce the number of corona cases daily. Work from home also known as telecommuting, remote working, distance working, telework, teleworking, mobile work, remote job, work from anywhere (WFA), and a flexible workplace where the employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store.[1]


WFH has the potential to create "Tech Neck". Tech neck, also known as cervical kyphosis, is a painful condition caused by the hunchback posture that many people adopt when they use their electronic devices. When you bend your neck forward to look at your smartphone or another electronic device, the problem begins.[2] 


While WFH has benefits such as reduced travel time and daily routine, it also reduces overall physical activity, which can contribute to musculoskeletal pain such as stiff neck, shoulder, and low back pain.[3][4]


More people than ever before are working from home, either temporarily or permanently, due to social distancing or as a remote professional. If you work from home, do everything you can to make your environment as friendly and pleasant as possible. After all, you don't want to work from home to be a strain on your shoulders or neck. Here are a few tips to help you avoid neck and shoulder pain[5]:

  • Set your feet firmly on the ground

- Keep your feet flat on the floor and slightly ahead of your knees, which are bent at a 90- to 120-degree angle.

- Use a lumbar support cushion or if one is not available, grab a small throw pillow to alleviate back pain.


  • Shoulders relax and natural

- Shoulders shall relax, upper arms fall normally at your sides, elbows are close to your body.

- Head is generally in line with your body not thrust forward and the middle of your computer monitor is at eye level.


  • Arm resting

- Hands and forearms are parallel to the floor. The ideal keyboard position is slightly below the height of your elbows and sloped slightly away from you. This position allows your upper body to relax and keeps circulation from being cut off in your lower arms and hands.


  • Neck-free when talking on electronic devices

- Use earbuds, a headset, or a speakerphone so that you don’t have to tilt your head and hold the phone between your neck and shoulder. This practice will avoid text neck and pain.


  • Keep moving

- Even with the best posture, you can get aches and pains from sitting in one position for too long so keep moving to relax your muscle and joints.


  • Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour to:

- Stretch and walk around

- Bend over and touch your toes

- Do some jumping jacks

- Run in place

- Roll your shoulders slowly

- Do arm circles to get your blood flowing

These activities will benefit not only your body but also your mind and focus. Do some of your tasks, such as phone calls, while standing, or even walking if possible.


Other Ways to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain

If you do develop neck and shoulder pain that you can’t manage from your home:

  • Apply magnesium oil.

- TRANSANIUM magnesium oil is known for rapid absorption and spraying directly on the affected areas will give almost instant relief for stiff neck. It is advisable to keep a bottle on the workstation to replenish the body’s magnesium level. Not only it relieves from stiff neck, but it will also help to manage stress and to sleep better. Many have complained their sleep quality has been affected due to over-exposure to blue light and work-life routines have been blurred.

  • Take a hot bath with magnesium chloride

- In water, they break down into magnesium and chloride. When you soak in TRANSANIUM magnesium flake in a bath, these get into your body through your skin. Soaking in warm water can help relax muscles and loosen stiff joints around your body[6].


  • Alternate ice, then heat on the affected area

- Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain around neck, shoulder, and arm. Alternating heat and cold may help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. Never use extreme heat, and never put ice directly on the skin[7].


  • Have your family member give you a massage

- A good massage will reduce the pain in the affected area and make the muscles relax.


Talk to Your Doctor if Having Ongoing Pain

-If your pain is ongoing, consider talking to a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. In some cases, telehealth may be an option. Many therapies are available to help you overcome neck and shoulder pain due to prolonged sitting or staying in one place for too long.


[1] "What is telework?", Frequently Asked Questions, United States Office of Personnel Management, Retrieved August 25, 2021.

[2] Milan, K. (2021, March 4). Tech neck, the e-epidemic of neck pain. Corydon Physiotherapy.

[3] Stieg, C. (2021). Working from home during Covid is causing more back and neck pain — here’s how to find relief. CNBC Make It. Retrieved from URL: amid-covid-exercises-for-relief.

[4] Vynas,L & Butakhieo (2020). The impact of working from home during Covid-19 on work and life domains: an exploratory study on Hong Kong. Taylors & Francis 

[5] Temple Health. (2020, March 27). 5 Ways to Avoid Neck and Shoulder Pain When Working from home. neck-shoulder-pain-working-from-home.

[6] Rath, L. (2021, July 26). Epsom salts bath: How to take one, what it does. WebMD.

[7] Brazier, Y. (2017, July 25). Heat and cold treatment: Which is best? Medical News Today.


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