What is “tech neck”?
“Tech neck” is the neck pain and numbness and tingling in the fingers that occur after using a smartphone or computer for an extended period of time. Additional symptoms include headaches and upper back pain.
How does it happen?
The head, when properly aligned with the neck and looking forward, weighs about 10 pounds. The muscles and bones of the neck are easily holding the head and there is no strain on any part of the neck. As you lower your head, such as when looking at the smartphone or tablet, your neck is bending forward and the weight it is holding increases. When looking straight down at your phone or tablet, and your chin is close to your chest, your neck is now holding about 60 pounds of weight. This means that the muscles designed to support 10 pounds are now straining to support 60 pounds.
You can correct “tech neck” with stretches and prevent it by changing some of your current habits when using mobile devices.
Get a pillow. There are neck pillows that you can use to help keep your neck in proper alignment with your body. They look like the travel pillows you may be familiar with – a U or C shaped pillow with more padding at the base of the neck. Used while you’re using your mobile device it will help keep your neck aligned with your body. Used for sleeping, it will help keep your neck in the shape it is meant to be. Either way, relieving the stress and tension will help.
Use a Cervical Roll. The neck, when properly aligned, has a C-shaped curve. It can be flattened or reversed by “tech neck”. A simple way to get the curve back is to use a cervical roll. Take a small hand towel and roll it lengthwise. Rubber band or tape it to keep the roll tight. Lay on your back on a flat surface and place the roll at the base of your neck. Relax and rest on the roll for 15 minutes a day.
Take micro-breaks. Set an alarm on your device for every hour and when it goes off, set the device down and walk away. If you’re sitting, then stand up and stretch your body. Take a break of 1-2 minutes. Stretch your body and give your neck a break. Make this a part of your daily routine.
Neck stretches. Start by relaxing your shoulders and lightly lay your hands on your thighs. Tilt your head toward your left shoulder and hold for 15 seconds. Use your hand to gently pull your head toward your shoulder. Let the weight of your head stretch your muscles. Repeat 2 to 4 times toward each shoulder.
A bit of prevention now will correct any issues you are having with “tech neck”.
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