How to Avoid Jigsaw Neck (Plus 4 Easy Stretches For Neck Strain)

All serious puzzles have been there: you’re so engrossed in a puzzle that hours go by in a couple of minutes. It isn’t until you finally call it quits and stand up that you notice the pain in your neck and shoulders. This is a common phenomenon in the puzzling community called, “jigsaw neck.”

Jigsaw neck is similar to the neck and shoulder strain you get when you’re bent over a computer or book for too long. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid it and still maintain your puzzling habit. Keep reading for our best tips, or scroll to the bottom for four easy stretches for neck strain.

Tip One: Take More Frequent Breaks

When you’re totally puzzle-obsessed (like us), it’s easy to sit at a puzzle long enough that your body starts to feel strained. The best way to avoid neck pain, shoulder pain, and joint stiffness is to get up and move around every once in a while. 

Try taking a break to stand up and stretch once every 30 minutes. It doesn’t haven’t to be long; you can get right back to your puzzle after a few minutes of moving around. Walking around for a few minutes lubricates your joints and prevents stiffness. It also gives you a few minutes to correct your posture and ease any neck tension you feel.

Plus, taking periodic breaks from your puzzle can actually help you when you’re stuck. You’ll come back to it with refreshed eyes and likely find a few matches that have been right in front of you all along. 

Tip Two: Adjust Your Sitting Position

Are you working on your puzzle at a table and sitting on a stiff dining room chair? If so, try adding some extra cushion under you and behind your back to make sitting for a long time easier. To avoid pain, it’s important to support your lower back

Keep both feet resting on the floor instead of sitting with your legs crossed. This will help prevent back and neck pain. Make sure your seat is the right height to the table to avoid hunching over. 

Try Using a Tilted Puzzle Table

The main cause of “jigsaw neck” is leaning over your table to work on your puzzle on a flat surface. To avoid hunching, you can invest in a puzzle board that has a tilting stand. You can get a simple one like this Wooden Adjustable Puzzle Easel and set it up on the floor or on a table.

Working on your jigsaw puzzle at a tilted angle will make it easier to sit up straight and avoid neck strain. If you want a fancier option, check out this Jigsaw Puzzle Table With Drawers. When your neck and back are supported with the right ergonomic factors, you will be amazed at how much longer you can work on your puzzle without pain!

Keep Your Pieces in Close Reach

One of the reasons you strain your neck while puzzling is because you constantly reach across the table to grab pieces. This repetitive motion can cause pain in several areas of your body. To prevent it, keep all of your pieces in relatively close reach so that you don’t have to strain yourself every time you pick up a puzzle piece. 

We recommend using puzzle sorters to organize your pieces instead of spreading them all over your table. Not only can you avoid neck and body strain, but you can complete puzzles faster when your pieces are organized by section. Some puzzle sorters are stackable, which means they take up even less space on your table. Check out our full review of the top five best puzzle sorters here.

4 Easy Stretches For Neck Strain

If you experience regular neck strain, either from long puzzling sessions or something else, try these stretches to feel better:

  1. Rotate your head slowly from side to side. First, turn your head to the right and hold for 30 seconds before bringing it back to center. Repeat to the left, and then start the stretch over. Continue for 3-5 reps.
  2. Tilt your head slowly from side to side. Looking straight ahead, tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds before bringing it back to center. Repeat to the left, then start the stretch over. Continue for 3-5 reps.
  3. Nod your head forwards and backward. First, tuck your chin and bend your head forward. Hold for 30 seconds before bringing your head back to neutral, then lean your head back, looking at the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds before bringing your head back to neutral. Repeat for 3-5 reps.
  4. Roll your shoulders. Start by lifting your shoulders up, as if you’re trying to reach your ears. Then, slowly rotate your shoulders backward until you complete a circle. Continue for five backward shoulder rolls. Next, reverse and complete five forward shoulder rolls.

These stretches for neck strain are best done while you are standing. Make sure you do them with good posture - do not attempt the stretches while you are slouching in a chair. For the best results, do these stretches during your puzzle breaks. The movement will get your blood flowing, improve circulation, and decrease stiffness.

Support Your Puzzling Habit With a Puzzle Subscription Membership

When you incorporate the tips and stretches for neck pain above, you can enjoy puzzling for hours. If you’re looking for a new way to support your puzzle habit, check out our puzzle rental subscription program at Completing the Puzzle. 

When you create a membership, you tell us your puzzle preferences (ie difficulty level and design preferences) and create a wishlist. Then, we send you your first puzzle in the mail! After completing it, simply ship it back to us with the prepaid shipping label so that we can send it to someone else. Once we receive it, we’ll send you your next puzzle.

A puzzle subscription program is a fun and eco-friendly way to try new puzzles all the time. Sign up for your membership today.