At any given moment in almost any public space, you can see the same thing: a sea of people all looking down at their phone. While technology certainly helps us stay connected with friends and family, it’s not doing a lick of good for our necks!
You see, our neck was not designed to be held in an awkward position for hours at a time. When we do this, we wind up with neck pain, headaches, spinal disc issues, and even pinched nerves. We in the industry have begun calling this “tech neck.”
And it’s not just older people that are experiencing this. In my own practice, I am seeing teenagers with “tech neck” come in complaining of pain and constant headaches.
If you spend hours each day on your phone, tablet or laptop and have been experiencing neck strain, here are some things you can do:
Hold Your Screen Higher
Try to make a constant effort to hold your cell phone or iPad higher than usual – closer to eye level – to stop your head from sloping forward. If your arms tend to get tired holding your phone or tablet up for longer periods of time, you can purchase a special holder to grasp your device for you. If your daily work requires you to spend a good amount of time on a laptop computer, consider getting an extra monitor for your desk and raise that screen’s height.
If you spend a lot of your day looking at a screen, you should also try to get into the habit of taking a 2- to 3-minute break every 30 minutes or so. If you need to, while you’re getting started, set alarms on your computer or phone to remind you. During these breaks, get up and move around, change your posture, and give your neck a quick stretch. To stretch properly and safely, gently lower your chin to your chest then slowly look up to the ceiling, followed by slowly looking to the left and then the right.
Use a Chair with a Headrest
The more you can use the correct posture, the healthier your neck will be. If your chair currently does not have a headrest, it’s a good idea to use one that does and keep the back of your head flush against the headrest while you use a screen.
Strengthen Your Muscles
The stronger your chest and back muscles, the more these will be able to support your neck and stop your head from sloping forward. This will reduce the pressure on your cervical spine.
Technology should improve our lives, not cause a neck injury. If you follow these tips you should be able to safely use your devices.
Never ignore any pain or discomfort you may be feeling. A chiropractor will be able to assess your situation and create a personalized plan that may include stretching, adjustments, and postural exercises to help you overcome tech neck.