Tech Neck: More than a pain in the neck.
It’s universally acknowledged that these days we spend too much time staring at screens. We can pretty safely assume you’re reading this on your phone right now, aren’t you?
If you’re not, and are sitting up straight and reading from a screen positioned at eye level; good for you! Gold star!
On 27 May, PFI’s postural genius Jess Davey will be leading a workshop: Solving Your Tech Neck, looking at this modern day malady, and how we can make postural changes to correct muscle balance and alleviate symptoms.
In the meantime, we thought we’d have a look at “tech neck”, the symptoms and offer some sage advice for treating and preventing it.
“Tech Neck” is a uniquely 21st century, postural stress injury that results from the repeated craning of the head forward and down to look at a screen.
The neck and spine carry the weight of the head, which can weigh up to 5.5kg. The laws of biomechanics and physics tell us that the pressure on the neck and spine increases with every degree of we bend the head forward; levers in action!
The more you incline your head to look at a screen, the more you move the head’s mass off its axis of rotation, creating more load for the neck to hold up.
UW Health Physical Therapist Bill Boissonnault illustrates this point really well:
- 15-degree bend in the neck results in 12.2kg of pressure.
- 30-degree bend in the neck results in 18.14kg of pressure.
- 45-degrees bend in the neck results in 22.22kg of pressure.
Ouch! No wonder our bodies hurt.
Sitting at a computer all day and or staring at your phone can create what is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome, which is essentially muscle imbalance in the back; and Forward Head Posture, both of which drive many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with tech neck.
These symptoms can include, and are not limited to:
- Neck stiffness.
- Neck pain.
- Upper back pain: chronic, sharp, spasms.
- Shoulder stiffness.
- Jaw pain or stiffness.
- Headaches or migraine.
- General discomfort at the end of the day.
- Lack of mobility.
- RSI: numbness or tingling in the arms or fingers.
- RSI: loss of strength in the fingers and hands.
Tech neck isn’t one of those conditions that will go away on its own, but fortunately there is plenty we can do to treat and prevent it.
- Practice good “device posture”
When using your phone or tablet sit or stand up straight, ensure shoulders are back and relaxed, and bring the device to eye level (fair warning, you will not look cool doing this) to avoid the head craning movement.
- Check your work set up
Ergonomics is all about making changes to the furniture and tools in your workspace in order to maximise comfort, health and ultimately productivity.
- Take a break from tech!
How often to you check your phone, scroll through email or scan your various social media feeds when you have a spare moment? Most of us are guilty of being easily distracted by technology and in the process, we’ve developed some bad (social and physical) habits!
Mindfulness about device usage is key to managing screen time.
See a professional
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with tech neck, it may be time to see a medical professional. Don’t put it off any longer, get some relief (and Pilates).
- Fix your posture
Pilates can help you not only discover your movement and postural habits that are causing difficulty, but also understand how your body is designed to move and sit in space. From here we can work to balance, strengthen and stretch your muscles to alleviate and prevent tech neck symptoms.
We know there’s no chance of ditching the devices altogether, so join Jess for Solving Your Tech Neck to learn how you can treat and ultimately prevent this condition!
Sign up here for Jess’ Workshop.