What is Tech Neck and How to Fix it
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
In the hyper-connected, digital world we live in today, it is no wonder that many of us develop conditions related to technology. From digital eye strain to tech neck, seemingly simple health issues can cause more than temporary discomfort. If you spend a significant amount of time looking down at your phone or tablet, here’s what you need to know about tech neck and ways to manage it effectively.
Understanding Tech Neck
Many may be surprised to learn that the average American spends an estimated 4 hours on their smartphone – every day. That adds up to 86 hours a month! When looking at a digital device, it’s natural for the head and neck to tilt downward. The normal curve of the neck reverses, causing you to stretch without realizing it. Simultaneously, both the upper back and shoulders tend to roll forward. This leads to the head losing its support over the body, resulting in strain on the neck, shoulders, and back.
Tech neck is the ultimate outcome, with pressure being placed on the joints, discs, and muscles. Over time, your neck becomes tight which can eventually lead to persistent pain and discomfort. Aside from ditching the smartphone, there are several ways to avoid tech neck in the first place.
Ways to Prevent It
The first step you can take to prevent the tightness caused by tech neck is to focus on your posture. Having correct posture, where you back and neck are upright and aligned with your head, keeps unnecessary pressure on the muscles at bay. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed when possible, even when looking down at your phone.
Additionally, setting time limits for how long you spend on your phone or tablet continuously helps a great deal. If you can’t put the device aside, plan for breaks throughout the day. Take time to stretch out your shoulders and back, and move around when possible. You can also make an effort to hold your device in front of you without looking down. This may be easier to do at the office if you invest in a standing desk, or a chair with a headrest. These simple changes can have a big impact on your neck strain in a short time.
If tech neck seems to be persistent, despite shifting focus to your posture and planning for stretching breaks, there are treatment options available.
Regular exercise – We all know by now that a consistent exercise routine can help in many facets of our well-being. Being active not only helps the heart stay in shape, but it also keeps excess weight off. When it comes to tech neck, having a standard exercise regimen can help keeps the muscles strong and the joints flexible, reducing the impacts of a strained neck and shoulders.
Neck stretches – An effective way to ease the pressure built up in the neck, back, and shoulders from device use involves regular stretching. Take a few moments to bend the neck so that one ear touches the shoulder, hold for 20 seconds, and bring back to center. Repeat on the other side, and do a few sets each day. A simple chin tuck, tilting the head down and tucking the chin into the neck, helps as well. A seated neck release where you gently tilt your head to the left and right with your hand may also help relieve some of the pressure and strain on your neck.
Chiropractic care – Finally, chiropractic care can offer relief from tech neck when exercise and stretching aren’t doing the job. With a visit to the chiropractor’s office, small injuries like tech neck can be treated before they turn into serious, debilitating pain. An alignment can relieve stress and pressure in the body while helping bring the muscles and joints back to an optimal state of functioning.
Understanding tech neck is the first step toward prevention and treatment. Be sure to monitor your posture while you spend time on your devices, and make small changes to realign your neck, head, and shoulders if possible. Take breaks for stretching and exercise, and plan a visit with your chiropractor if you need experienced help in eliminating tech neck discomfort.