It's probably no secret to you that bad computer habits can lead to neck pain. But when it comes to the workaday world, the truth is, computer usage is not the only pain in the neck. Even people who don't spend a lot of time with computers end up with neck stiffness and strain at the end of a long day at work. Here are three more common causes of neck pain--and, even better, a few simple tips that can help you prevent the pain from starting.

Cause 1: You hold the phone between your neck and shoulder to multi-task.
This "look Mom, no hands!" approach leads to probably the worst position for your neck. It's counterproductive, too. If you think you can escape neck stiffness or soreness from trying to do so many things at once, think again!

Remember, the phone is just an instrument. Keep your head upright and bring the phone to your ear, not the other way around. Your neck will thank you.

Your take-away: Hold the phone with your hand or buy a headset. I admit, I am hooked on mine. It's not geeky or expensive: It's good sense because it's good self-care.

Cause 2: Your chair isn't ergonomically correct--for you.
Too many times we just sit on the office furniture we are assigned, or we don't pay much attention when purchasing a new chair. But think about it: The office chair is often the seat in which we spend the majority of our day. Treat yourself with care by making sure that time is spent comfortably.

The goal is to find a chair that will encourage good posture, support proper spinal alignment, and help you fight fatigue. The perfect chair has armrests that can be positioned so that your elbows are bent to a 90-degree angle and your shoulders are slightly raised. The chair's height should let your feet remain planted firmly on the floor (or add a footrest to achieve that). When seated, your upper thighs should be parallel to the floor.

Your take-away: Your chair is your daily "partner in crime," so choose it carefully. If the one you're allotted is not ideal, buy your own. It's worth every penny.

Cause 3: You carrying heavy briefcases, handbags, and totes (including the computer!) on one shoulder to and from work.
How many of us are lugging too much stuff with us back and forth every day? Too many.

Lightening the load is the obvious answer. Start by assessing what you really need to tote along, and leave behind the unnecessary weight. At times when that's not possible (as any traveling salesman or conference presenter will attest), try switching shoulders frequently so you're not overusing--and straining--your dominant side. Better yet, get a backpack, or carry two lighter bags, so that the weight is shared by both sides of your body.

Your take-away: Shed a few carry-on pounds, and distribute the remainder equally. Your neck, back, and outlook will thank you for it!

There's no reason to just accept neck pain without a fight. After all, nothing in the list above is prohibitively difficult or expensive to do. Take a look at your work practices, and put these simple tips to work. The return on your investment--in greater comfort, higher productivity, and an outlook unburdened by pain--can be priceless.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.