What is Tech Neck and how should we fix it?
Cell phones and computers are a pivotal part of our daily lives. We rely on them for many situations including scheduling, entertainment, communication, and even business. Studies have shown that 79% of people ages 18-44 keep their smart phones with them at almost all points.
Because of constant electronic device use, people have started to experience neck, back, and shoulder pain from looking down at screens. In fact, this has become such an issue that there has even been a term coined for it: Tech (or text) Neck. Tech Neck (or Text Neck as it is sometimes referred to) is used to describe an injury obtained by a person that has their head bent in a forward position from looking at that their phone or computer screen for a prolonged period of time.
So what are some signs and symptoms of Tech Neck?
Tech Neck commonly leads to neck pain, upper back pain, headaches and shoulder pain. You may have an electronic related injury if you experience any of these symptoms after looking at a screen for an extended period of time:
- Radiating Pain Down Arms: Radiating pain is often a symptom of forward head bending and poor posture.
- Stiff Neck: If it is difficult to move your neck left or right, or you feel pain with this motion after looking down.
- Headaches: When your neck muscles tighten, it can sometimes cause tension headaches, especially after focusing on a screen.
- Localized Sharp Pain: You may feel a stabbing in one specific spot. Oftentimes, people feel sharp pain in their upper back.
If this is you, that’s okay! There are some things you can do to help relieve the discomfort. Try these out.
Raise Your Screen to Eye Level: Get a holder to put your device in that will raise it to eye level. This will make it so that your eyes stay level and your head won’t move downward.
Use Proper Chair Positioning: Adjust the chair so your feet are firmly on the ground. Sit up straight with your hips back. Keep the chair reclined around 100 degrees, make sure the keyboard is close to you, and move the screen to eye length.
Take Breaks Every 30 Minutes: Take 3 minute breaks every half hour to move around (with a timer). Stretch during this time and re-position so that you aren’t staying in the same spot.
Stop If You Feel Pain: If you feel any of the symptoms above, avoid the activities that cause or flare up the injury. Listen to your body and make adjustments to reduce the pain, numbness, or soreness.
Try These Exercises For Some Relief: Click our easy video tutorials below to follow along.
- Neck Retraction: Perform two sets of five for every hour spent looking at a screen
- Mid Back Stretch in Chair: Do 5 stretches for 3 seconds each
- Peck/Shoulder Stretch: Do three of these and hold for 30 seconds each
Tech neck is a huge problem and it is even worse because there are many factors that could be the cause. Often, people don’t even realize that their pain is caused by what they are doing in their daily lives. Although the exercises we provided may alleviate some symptoms, it’s important to get to the root of the problem and address proper body mechanics to figure out the cause. That is exactly what a physical therapist is trained to do. We want to make sure our patients live the most fulfilling lives possible and are able to tackle any obstacle head on, including using their technology comfortably!