Do You have Tech Neck?
If you are reading this, are you looking down on your phone or ipad? Have you spent the day sitting in front of a poorly designed at-home workstation or are you slouched on the couch? According to physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors, thereis a steady increase in tech neck.
So exactly what is tech neck? It's flexing the head forward to look at a smartphone or computer.. According to Dr. K Daniel Riew, the added load directly effects the spine and with just 15 degrees of flexion can add 27 pounds on the neck. The more flexion equates to more stress on the spine.
At just 45 degrees, your neck muscles are doing the work of lifting a 50 lb. bag of potatoes.”
— Dr. K. Daniel Riew
The most common symptoms of tech neck appear in the neck, shoulder and upper back. The symptoms my include:
Stiff neck: soreness and difficulty in moving the neck is usually present when trying to move the neck after long usages
Radiating pain down the arms
Muscular weakness of shoulders and upper back, trigger knots under shoulder blades
Interestingly enough is the old adage "sit up straight" does not apply to working at your desk. We all know the value of changing our body positions from sitting to standing, but sitting vertical for an extended period of time compresses your spine. So what should your do? A better way to sit is to recline the chair back 25-30 degrees and have good lumbar support (a rolled up towel taped securely works). This position creates a lower force on the spine and the neck compared to an upright position that forces you to hold your head up.
Preventing tech neck is about being aware of your body in motion and stillness. Make time to exercise and move daily. Getting that heart rate up, yoga/stretching, and strength work are key elements. Below are five simple stretches that can help relieve stiffness, however, if you are in pain please consult a physician. Take time to assess your tech posture and your spine will thank you!