The basic definition is the name given to neck soreness from endlessly sitting in front of a computer, typing on a laptop or using any handheld technology. The pain is typically in the the cervical spine, which is why it’s called “tech neck,” but it is not limited to the neck. Overuse or improper use of technology can cause pain in the upper or mid-thoracic and lumbar spine as well.
Sitting with our shoulders hunched forward, neck straining at an uncomfortable angle and eyes squinting to read the screen in our hand is, unfortunately, becoming a common position at work or in social situations for people of all ages from 2 to 72, even older. It’s posture that is most often associated with smart phones, and since 92% of all adults own one, it’s safe to say that this habit isn’t going away anytime soon. Our heads are best carried in a neutral position (the center of our ears over our shoulders), and every inch we move our heads forward puts added strain on our neck. Too much time spent with our heads bent forward over some kind of technological device, beings to create Tech Necks.
There is not going to be a one-size fits all cure for Tech Neck. Gwanseob Shin of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology Ergonomics lab in South Korea says, “It is difficult to recommend a proper posture for smartphone users. If we raise the phone at eye level to avoid the look-down posture, it will add new concerns for the shoulder due to the elevated arm posture.” He claims that more frequent rest breaks from technology and some physical exercise to strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles is probably more practical. While being more practical, is it really reasonable?
Here are a few tips for avoiding Tech Neck:
– Be aware – consciously consider the position of your arms, shoulders and especially your neck when using technology
– Set Time Limits – take a 3 minute break for every 15-20 minutes you use your device
– Set automatic reminders – most smart devices have timers, take a time-out regularly
– Take Action – pain is our body’s warning system that something isn’t right; don’t ignore it.
DeMoss Chiropractic is the healthcare professional trained to care for the spine. If you or your children are suffering from any of the common symptoms of Tech Neck, be sure to schedule an appointment today.