Tech Neck – Is the anterior positioning of the cervical spine from extended use of any technology. Tech Neck is caused by close elbows a downward head and rolled forward shoulders, while using phones, tablets, or any type of hand held technology. Extensive time spent in this position can lead to major health issues.

Poor posture = Poor health

THERE are plenty of reasons to put our cellphones down now and then, not least the fact that incessantly checking them takes us out of the present moment and disrupts family dinners around the globe. But here’s one you might not have considered: Smartphones are ruining our posture. And bad posture doesn’t just mean a stiff neck. It can hurt us in insidious psychological ways. Have you ever looked up at a public place? Notice how many are looking at their devices? I have heard Tech Neck also called text-neck (actually this is an old term -because it’s not just texting anymore) and even  iNeck (named for the different types of devices now available).

 

Over long periods of time this extreme forward posture can lead to muscle strain, disc injury, nerve impingement and arthritic changes in the neck – and the potential for developing ongoing neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and pain radiating down the arms. This posture causes flattening and possible reversal of the spinal curve and an increase of the natural curve in the upper back or thoracic area called ‘dowagers hump'.

The average head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. When we bend our necks forward 60 degrees, as we do to use our phones, the effective stress on our neck increases to 60 pounds — the weight of about five gallons of paint. When I treat older patients, I see plenty of “dowagers humps”, where the upper back had frozen into a forward curve like that seen in  grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Now that same stooped posture can be seen in teenagers.

Posture doesn’t just reflect our emotional states; it can also cause them. Don't just take my word for it.  In this study published in Health Psychology assigned non-depressed participants to sit in an upright or slouched posture and then had them answer a mock job-interview question, a well-established experimental stress inducer, followed by a series of questionnaires. Comparing to the upright sitters, the slouchers reported significantly lower self-esteem and mood, and much greater fear. Posture affected even the contents of their interview answers: Linguistic analyses revealed that slouchers were much more negative in what they had to say. The researchers concluded, “Sitting upright may be a simple behavioral strategy to help build resilience to stress.”

Slouching can also affect our memory: In a study  participants were randomly assigned to sit in either a slouched or an upright position and then presented with a list of positive and negative words. When they were later asked to recall those words, the slouchers showed a negative recall bias (remembering the bad stuff more than the good stuff). Another study showed Japanese schoolchildren, those who were trained to sit with upright posture were more productive than their classmates in writing assignments.

Ironically, while many of us spend hours every day using small mobile devices to increase our productivity and efficiency, interacting with these objects, even for short periods of time, might do just the opposite, reducing our assertiveness and undermining our productivity.

Despite all this, we rely on our mobile devices far too much to give them up, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Fortunately, there are ways to fight the Tech Neck.

Keep your head up and shoulders back when looking at your phone, even if that means holding it at eye level. You can also try stretching and massaging the two muscle groups that are involved in the TechNeck — those between the shoulder blades and the ones along the sides of the neck. This helps reduce scarring and restores elasticity.

What You Can Do to Stop Tech Neck : 5 Easy Steps

The good news is that there are ways to alleviate your muscular pain and discomfort before your condition gets worse. It is possible to feel better (both mentally and physically) just by making some changes to your daily posture and your lifestyle.

  1. Set time limits. Limit the amount of time and frequency that you use your device. If you have to use it for an extended period of time, take breaks. Develop a habit of taking a three-minute break for every 15-20 minutes you use your device. Change your posture and move around.
  2. Set automatic reminders. Utilize an automatic alarm with your smart device reminding you to take a time out. For those of you that have wearable devices these can be set to remind you to break, such as the iWatch which can tap you every 15-20 minutes.
  3. Use a tablet holder. Purchase a holder to elevate your device to significantly reduce the amount of neck flexion and forward positioning. Try to keep the device as close to eye-level as possible. This is a great tool to reduce Tech Neck.
  4. Sit in a chair with a headrest. Keeping the back of your head flush against the headrest will ensure that you're not looking down with your neck flexed forward.
  5. Use pain as a warning. If you experience pain in your neck,  between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms, or frequent headaches there may be a more serious issue going on. Pay attention to these warning signs and act quickly to make changes to reduce or eliminate any head-forward posture that is straining your neck. Have your nervous system, spine and posture checked.

 

This health tip brought to you by Dr. Shauna Lover DC. Mobile Chiropractor to the Big Island

If you would like your Tech Neck addressed feel free to contact Dr Shauna.

For more information, call 808-209-1856 or email [email protected]