Do You Have Tech Neck?
Recently labelled an epidemic, Tech Neck is the new name given to neck pain, strain and misalignment caused by long hours of looking down at your phone, tablet or other device.
Tech Neck affects people of all ages, but more young people are being treated for neck pain than ever before.
Research conducted by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj of New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation found that as the head tilts forward, it increases the force on the spine by 10 pounds. This means that your head actually feels heavier to your spine which has to work harder and becomes fatigued faster.
The flexion of the head is also coupled with bent elbows and both shoulders rolled forward. This posture causes tightness of all of the muscles in the front of the neck and shoulders and overstretching of the muscles in the back of the neck and upper back which can lead to instability and pain over time.
Analytics firms estimate that the average smartphone user spends five hours each day on their phone, which usually means that they are in this posture for most of this time.
The good news is that it’s not too late to create good habits and decrease your likelihood of having neck pain. Here are a few simple things you can do today:
- Keep your ears in line with your shoulders. Even when you are looking at a computer at eye level or driving, most people’s heads tend to gradually go too far forward. Try to consciously correct this periodically.
- Hold your device up to eye level. Avoid looking down at your phone or tablet and either lower your chair or raise your computer screen so that you are not looking down at your screen.
- Practice engaging your posterior back muscles and stretching the anterior neck muscles. Roll your shoulders back and push your shoulder blades together as much as possible. This can be done several times each day. You could also practice doing wall angels, a simple dynamic stretching exercise.
- If you can’t remember to take breaks to correct your posture, you can set alarms on your device to alert you at least once or twice every hour.
Most people would benefit from using their electronics a little less, but even if that is not a possibility, a few simple steps can prevent chronic pain and improper curvatures in the spine.