What Is Tech Neck?
Unless you were physically handed a printed piece of paper, there’s a good chance you’re reading this article on a handheld device or computer screen. Over the course of the next five minutes, you will probably be one of the 4 billion people collectively receiving over 19 billion text messages every single day. We live in a culture that is extremely connected through technology. This means, in order to stay afloat in this fast-paced and technologically-driven world, you are probably spending a lot of time staring at the small rectangular device in your hand. All of this instantaneous information and communication comes at a steep price, though—a painful position for your spine called, “tech neck.”
“Tech neck” is the standard position of someone looking down at a phone or laptop—head tilted forward, back hunched, and shoulders rounded. It can result in stiffness and pain in the neck—something experienced by 7 out of 10 adults. It’s easy to see why. The average American spends more than five hours looking at their phones, causing a lot of stress on the neck and spine.
This is because, when held up straight your head weighs about 12 pounds. For every inch you tilt your head, the weight on your neck practically doubles. This means that at 30 degrees, your head weighs up to 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees it weighs more than 60 pounds. That’s the equivalent of holding a full-grown Golden Retriever on your shoulders.
Symptoms of tech neck are very specific and include pain in the upper back, neck aches or pains, or lack of mobility in the shoulders. If you spend a large amount of time on your smartphone and are experiencing these symptoms, you should start incorporating these habits into your daily life:
Set a Timer
It’s probably safe to assume you won’t be tossing your smartphone in the trash anytime soon. The next safest bet is to limit the time spent on your device, even only slightly. If you know you’ll be on your phone for a prolonged period of time, set timers to go off every 15-20 minutes. When the timer buzzes, take a moment to straighten your spine and look up from your phone.
There are several easily accessible stretches for sore necks and shoulders. Implement a few of these into your morning routine to elongate the muscles you unconsciously use on a daily basis. You should also pay a visit to a local chiropractor, like a chiropractor in Glen Burnie, MD, who can help you with additional lifestyle changes to ease the tech neck burden.
Slide it Up
Most smartphone users keep their devices held at their waist or in their laps. This invites a deeper head tilt which then increases the weight of the head and burden of the neck. Instead, try holding your smartphone at eye level so your head can remain at a zero degree angle.
Technology and smartphones are an integral part of our lives — ones that won’t be going anywhere any time soon. By keeping tabs on smartphone usage and checking your technology posture consistently, your tech neck will be an ache of the past.
Thanks to Mid Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for their insight into what “tech neck” is and how to avoid getting it.