Even pre-pandemic, Tech Neck was on the rise. Just as it sounds, Tech Neck is a stiff neck, caused by fixed focus on a technology tool.
Then the pandemic came, and employees began working remotely. Students found themselves thrust into remote learning.
That’s how Tech Neck became an even bigger, well, pain in the neck.
What is Tech Neck?
“Absolutely Tech Neck is increasing,” said Dr. Brigitte Rozenberg, a southern California chiropractor. “And it’s not just because of everyone using cell phones, iPads and computers.”
There are right ways and wrong ways to use technology when we work or play.
“When we’re at home, the environment is not always the best,” Rozenberg said. “The setup may not be ergonomically correct, like it is in the workplace.”
“People aren’t making sure that their eye level is in line with the screen,” she added. “If you’re looking down at a screen, and not for a short period of time, you’re at risk for Tech Neck.”
Well, you might be thinking, that’s not such a big deal. It’s just a little stiffness in the neck.
Ignoring the early symptoms of Tech Neck is not smart. Tech Neck, left untreated, can cause many more problems in children and adults.
Symptoms of Tech Neck
A person may go to a doctor complaining of neck pain. Before arriving at a diagnosis of Tech Neck, information about the patient should be gathered.
“The first thing that’s needed is a thorough history from the patient,” Dr. Rozenberg said. “There may be a pre-existing condition, such as an old injury from sports or a vehicle accident.”
If you have a pre-existing condition, being vigilant about Tech Neck prevention is even more important, she said.
“Tech Neck is more likely to occur if there’s a pre-existing condition,” Dr. Rozenberg said. “It wouldn’t take much overuse, in a certain position, to aggravate it. “
While Tech Neck may occur more quickly if a person has a pre-existing condition, it can happen to anybody. In younger people, Tech Neck symptoms only include tension headaches and jaw pain.
Damage Caused by Tech Neck
It’s important to accept that Tech Neck isn’t caused by the use of the technology. It’s caused by the way we use it.
Typically, using a cell phone or tablet, we are looking down to type and view at the same time. Our heads are heavy and designed to be carried directly on our neck. When we spend big chunks of time looking down, the weight of our heads strains our necks.
“Tech Neck can spread to the shoulders and back, where it can cause sharp pains and muscle spasms,” Dr. Rozenberg said. “It can cause disc problems and tingling in the arms and hands.”
Tech Neck can also be the source of headaches.
“If you don’t pay attention to the early signs and do something about it, it can become a chronic condition,” Rozenberg said. “It starts as a minor problem but if untreated it can become a serious problem.”
10 Tech Neck Prevention Tips
Bring Devices to Eye Level
Change the position of object you are using, so that the screen you are viewing is at eye level. If you’re using a PC or laptop, this is an easy fix. It can be as simple as adjusting te height of a chair or desk.
Get a Phone or Tablet Holder
Parents especially need to check how their children are positioning themselves when using tablets and cell phones. For example, if they are watching a lengthy video or movie, they shouldn’t be looking down at the screen.
Take Frequent Breaks
Take a short walk, even if it’s just around the room. Stretch your upper body, especially arms and neck.
Yoga and Pilates are especially effective in combating Tech Neck, due to the emphasis on gentle stretching.
Get Frequent Massages
“Getting a massage used to be thought of as a luxury,” Dr. Rozenberg said. “But now, a massage is truly a necessity.”
Seek a Chiropractor or Acupuncturist
Both those treatments are like a reset button for the body.
Don’t Neglect Symptoms
If you feel pain, stop what you’re doing. Take time to stretch (see below).
Change How You Work
Switch from tablet to laptop or PC whenever possible, to keep the viewing screen at eye level.
Make Your Home Office an Actual Office
Set up the home working area to the same standards that would be used in a professional office. Especially, invest in an ergonomic chair. Slouching lends itself to Tech Neck, since when you slough your shoulders are rounded and your head and neck carriage is not correct.
Rub Your Neck and Shoulders
To make that more effective, use a cream designed to alleviate aches and pains.
5 Easy Tech Neck Stretches
- While seated, keeping eyes fixed ahead on an object at eye level, tuck your chin towards your chest. Make sure that you don’t bend your neck. Just tuck your chin.
- Standing, with your back against the wall, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then down. Hold for ten seconds. Repeat ten times.
- While seated, reach with one hand to hold seat of chair. Remain sitting upright with your back straight. Turn your head to the opposite side (opposite the side that is holding the chair). Tuck your chin towards your chest. Place your free hand on the back of your head and gently pull towards your opposite knee, until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Standing, in a doorway, place palms and forearms against the sides of the doorway. Take a small step forward to fee the stretch in the front of your shoulders.
- While seated, hold one arm up at shoulder level, arm bent. Use your opposite hand to grasp the back of that arm. Pull gently across the front of your body.