Whether you love or hate it, there is no hiding from the fact that technology plays an integral role in daily life for most people and has advanced the way we live. And while there are clear benefits to devices such as phones and laptops, could tech be part of the issue regarding complaints such as neck pain, headaches, and shoulder tension?
We are sad to say it is highly likely.
If you have ever observed a friend or family member while on their device or have driven by a bus stop and seen someone looking at their phone, did you notice the position of their head? Most of the time, the neck and head move from being in line with the shoulders and body to away from the body. This is in the opposite direction to the natural curve at the top of the spine. The further the head moves forward and down, the heavier it becomes, which results in more pressure through the spine and increased tension through the supporting structures such as the muscles.
Maybe you have experienced it yourself? That frustrating feeling of a heavy head at the end of the day, stiffness when turning your head while driving, or pressure weighing down on your shoulders like you have the weight of the world on there. Often due to the sustained poor posture, also known as ‘tech neck’. And sadly, if the habit continues, it can cause chronic issues.
So, what can you do? Don’t worry; we will not instruct you to avoid technology completely, as we know that’s not realistic for the majority. Still, there are simple things you can do daily to help reduce the effects of device use and lessen the chance of you developing long-term aches and pains.
Here are 5 ways you can beat ‘tech neck’:
1. Elevate your screens
Try to elevate the screen of your devices so that the main point of focus is just above your eye line. Instead of looking down, it will encourage you to look ahead and slightly upwards.
2. Allow for regular breaks
If sitting down, try and stand up every 20 minutes which will help to reset your posture. Your colleagues may ask what you are doing, but you will soon find they will want to join you! If you need to use a screen for long periods, take your eye gaze away from the screen regularly throughout the day. This only takes seconds, but it will help to reduce strain on your eyes and encourage you to check in with your body.
3. Consider a standing desk
Sitting for extended amounts of time will encourage your posture to round and your head to creep forward, increasing the strain through your spine. If you have access to a standing desk or can invest in one, we would highly recommend it because standing, or having the option to stand and sit, will support your natural spinal alignment and encourage you to move more.
Spend time during the day creating intentional movement. Gentle rolling of your shoulders forwards and backwards, and slow neck movement in all directions will help to generate mobility. Open up your chest muscles too, by simply placing both hands out to your side, palms upwards, and squeezing your muscles between your shoulder blades, as these can often get tight.
5. Neck towel exercise
Your spinal curves are essential, so here is a gentle exercise to support your neck curve. Fold a medium-sized bath towel in half along its short edge, and roll it up tightly, forming a cylinder. Lie on your back on the floor if comfortable (or on your bed) and place the towel behind you just above your shoulders, which will position it behind the back of your neck. Allow your arms to rest by your side. Resting here will help remove the tension from your spine and chest. Bend your knees to take the pressure out of your lower back if you find lying in this position uncomfortable. Do this for 5 – 10 minutes a day. If you get any pain, dizziness, or other symptoms of concern, remove the towel and revert to some gentle stretching as described in point 4.
Whether you are in discomfort or not, give these a try and see how you get on. It’s always best to be proactive when it comes to the health of your spine. And if you are currently experiencing aches and pains and they persist despite trying to help yourself, feel free to get in touch and see how chiropractic care can help. The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.