Tech neck… a new name for an older issue (text neck).
What is it?
It’s the un-natural hunch we develop from staring at our phones for too long and too often, often leading to neck pain, stiffness, and headaches.
For the majority of us, during the time we spend on our smartphones we aren’t taking care of our posture. Often our chins are down, and our necks curved forward. Prolonged positions like this can cause strain related injuries throughout the spine and shoulders, and may increase the risk for degenerative spinal changes in the long term.
The impact on your spine increases the more your neck is flexed. In a neutral position, the average weight for an adult head is about 5kg. However, when tilted forward the load on the neck can reach up to 27 kg’s. Putting that amount of weight through your spine for several hours per day is a sure-fire way to aggravate the musculoskeletal structures around your neck and more.
Tips for using your phone
My advice would be trying to keep your phone up at eye level when using it.
- Raise up your elbows so your neck doesn’t have to flex so much: rest your elbows on a table, your own ribs (when laying down), or use your opposite hand to hold your wrist up.
- Sit up straight, avoid slumping and slouching. While sitting, align the neck and spine by checking that the ears are over the shoulders and the shoulders are over the hips.
- Take short breaks from prolonged phone & tech use… the group chat will have to wait while you reset your posture.
We recommend basic stretches and exercises for the neck and back also. Trying to focus on balancing posture by bending the neck backwards – the opposite action to hanging our heads down towards a phone. A couple of easy exercises to try:
- At home: lie on your bed and hang your neck off the edge, extending through the neck
- Interlock your hands behind your neck and try to extend your neck over your hands
- Stretching up and backwards with the arms and shoulders
- Check out our YouTube Channel for more videos of stretches like this one:
The BEST way to avoid neck pain from screens, is of course less screen time!
The ‘neck’ step from here…
Today’s technology is too prominent to avoid, it’s everywhere! Here at Pakenham Osteopathy, we understand it can be easy to fall into the trap of staring at your phone for hours until you realise how much stress you’re putting through your neck – we see clients dealing with this every day. We can offer more tips and exercises to resolve your issues, most of which we modify to suit your specific work and/or lifestyle demands.
If you are experiencing pain and relate it to sustained forward neck postures with either a phone, computer, or work duties, come and see one of our osteopaths. We aim to help relieve your pain and iron out how we can reduce your tech neck going forward, while allowing for continued enjoyment of today’s screen technology.