In our modern and always connected world, smartphones have become a huge part of the majority of people’s lives in the developed world. Smartphones are used for everything from calls and texts to navigation, games, social networking and almost everything else it seems. We use our smartphones and devices so much that we are developing new worldwide health trends. This article is going to focus on one of those new trends caused by our dependence on those devices, Tech Neck.
Tech Neck is a condition that is caused by the almost constant forward and downward flexion on the neck that occurs while looking at the screens on our devices. It began as Text Neck but has grown to Tech Neck with the addition of the multitude of other devices besides phones that we look down at daily. Over time, this forward and downward flexion can begin to cause issues such as muscle strains, nerve impingement, disc injuries and other issues with the spine. These issues can lead to pain, headaches, soreness and misalignments of the neck and shoulders. Obviously deciding to just not using your devices is impossible in this day and age, so here are a few tips to maximize ergonomics and help yourself avoid the pain of Tech Neck.
Avoiding Tech Neck
Here are some ways to change your daily routine to help avoid the pain:
Limit use time
Set time limits for your sessions on your devices. Get in the habit of taking a break for a few minutes every 20 minutes you use a device. Set reminder alerts so that you don’t forget to take breaks! If you are stuck using a device for extended periods, change up the way you sit or move around to help avoid extended time periods in the same position.
Sit in a chair with a headrest
Using a chair with a headrest and making sure to keep your head touching the headrest eliminates the forward flexion and keeps you in good posture.
Use a tablet holder
If you find yourself spending extended time on a tablet, it is best to get a tablet stand. You can set it to a healthy height close to eye level to avoid bad posture/Tech Neck and you free up your hands!
Let your pain be a warning
When you feel the beginnings of pain in your neck and shoulders, notice frequent headaches or get any kind of shooting pains or numbness/tingling down into your arms, LISTEN to your body. Ensure you are trying to eliminate that forward flexion of the head and focus on posture. Quick changes can help avoid more serious prolonged pain and discomfort.
Dealing with the Discomfort
These stretches can help with the discomfort of Tech Neck:
Stretch #1: Chin Tuck
Bring your chin down towards your chest and hold for 5 seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch from your neck to the base of your skull.
Repeat 10 times.
Stretch #2: Side Bending
Tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear down close to the shoulder. Make sure to keep your left shoulder down. You can use your hand to lightly pull your head farther into the stretch (Do not pull too hard when you feel resistance!). Hold for 20 seconds and repeat for the other side.
Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
Stretch #3: Side-to-Side Head Rotation
Rotate your head, turning your chin towards your right shoulder. You can use your hand to push your head farther into the stretch (Again, do not push too hard when you feel resistance!) Hold for 20 seconds and repeat for the other side.
Repeat 3-5 times on each side.