Have you noticed an uptick in your neck and shoulder pain lately? You may be experiencing symptoms associated with tech neck. The term “tech neck” refers to the pain and discomfort caused by frequently using devices such as computers and phones. This issue is increasing in frequency as individuals spend more time looking down at their devices and less time practicing good posture.
Common tech neck symptoms include:
- Back of neck pain
- Shoulder discomfort
- Upper back pain
- Reduced mobility in your neck
- Pain when flexing or an inability to flex your neck
Tech neck is not an official medical diagnosis but rather a term used by health professionals to describe the symptoms associated with the frequent use of mobile devices. Neck, back and shoulder pain are common, so the medical community uses the terms tech neck and text neck to describe the discomfort you’re experiencing due to viewing technology.
Tech Neck Causes
Tech neck is caused by looking down at your devices, but there’s more behind this discomfort than simply scrolling through social media for too long. Tech neck creates back of neck pain and headaches by putting too much pressure on your upper back, spine, neck and shoulders.
The weight of our heads is supported by the bones and muscles in our upper back, neck and shoulders. By spending time with your head in a forward-leaning position such as when you’re looking down at your phone, you’re placing a tremendous amount of pressure and weight on these areas.
As you look down, the muscles in your neck contract to hold your head up, straining them and causing them to eventually become sore or stiff. When you repeatedly look down for long periods of time, your muscles have to work overtime to keep up with the added strain.
Overusing your neck muscles in this manner can injure your muscles, tissues and other vital cervical spine structures, causing tech neck to manifest itself in many different ways, including neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain and upper back pain.
According to recent studies, Americans now spend an average of over four hours per day on their phones and other devices. That’s a lot of time to spend with your head in an awkward position that places strain on your neck, shoulders and spine.
Tech Neck Prevention
With the surge in mobile device usage and reliance, preventing tech neck is easier said than done. There is a strong possibility that, like other individuals today, you spend the bulk of your day working on your computer, tablet or another mobile device.
We’ve also had to adapt to Zoom meetings and virtual visits with loved ones, creating an uptick in social media use. So, how do you prevent tech neck without sacrificing your productivity at work or engagement with friends and family on social media?
- Breaks: Since tech neck occurs from prolonged use of the muscles in your neck, many chiropractic professionals recommend regular breaks from your computer, tablet or phone. You can set a timer to help you remember to take a break or use one of the many apps available on the market today.
- Stretch: When you step away from your devices, be sure to stretch. Roll your head from side to side and front to back in order to get some blood and oxygen flowing to your tired neck, shoulder and upper back muscles. Stretching your back and neck muscles is essential to prevent and alleviate the pain associated with tech neck.
- Posture: Tech neck is caused by poor posture stemming from keeping your head and neck bent forward. To prevent discomfort, you’ll want to practice good posture with your ears aligned over your shoulders and your chin up. This position takes the strain off of your neck muscles and reduces stress on your upper spine and shoulders.
- Ergonomics: Ergonomics refers to an efficient work environment and involves setting up the ideal workstation to prevent tech neck. This method includes placing your computer monitors at eye level, choosing a comfortable chair and equipping your workstation with accessible supplies.
Practicing these habits will help you prevent tech neck without sacrificing your productivity or the enjoyment of connecting with friends and family. Since most people have to spend time using a mobile device for their job, school or hobbies, tech neck is a common problem. Strengthening the muscles and tissues that support your head while looking down at your devices is a smart way to improve your existing symptoms or prevent new ones from occurring.
Exercises for Tech Neck
Knowing how to fix tech neck can help reduce the discomfort it causes. Stretching your neck muscles will help prevent tech neck, but you can also strengthen your neck muscles. Strengthening your neck and upper back muscles will help alleviate and prevent these symptoms. One simple tech neck exercise can be performed while sitting in a chair and is known as the chin tuck exercise.
Perform the chin tuck exercise by doing the following:
- Sit with your shoulders back and your head and core upright.
- Place your middle and index fingers, or any two fingers, on your chin and tuck your chin into your chest.
- Using your fingers to press your chin toward your chest, gently and slowly pull your head back.
- Hold that position for a few seconds and relax.
- Remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Repeat steps three and four roughly three to five times.
The chin tuck exercise is one of the easiest ways to make your neck muscles stronger and more flexible. There are other exercises you can perform to help build your neck muscles, as well. Simple head rolls are a great way to exercise your neck muscles and build your endurance to handle working in the current digital business environment.
You’ll also want to ensure you’re drinking plenty of water and sleeping in proper positions to combat tech neck. These actions are great ways to prevent a range of different health issues, especially those associated with back, neck and shoulder pain.
Contact Thrive Chiros for Tech Neck Treatment
Are you experiencing symptoms associated with tech neck? Time spent looking down at your computer, tablet and phone can take a toll on essential muscles, causing neck pain and headaches to slow you down and decrease your quality of life. For over 14 years, the professional staff at Thrive Chiros has been helping the residents of Oklahoma City take control of their lives by alleviating discomfort caused by issues such as tech neck.
Call to get started or fill out our online form to schedule your tech neck appointment with Thrive Chiros today!