Tech Neck Symptoms and Solutions

If you’re reading this, you are looking at a screen.  And, if you’re like most technology users, you aren’t thinking about your posture while you’re spending hours staring at your screen.  Most likely, you’re hunched over, with your shoulders rounded and your headed jutted forward at an unnatural angle to see the small screen on your smartphone.  Even at your computer, your workstation might be dictating your posture, rather than a conscious choice on your part to keep a healthy alignment of your neck and spine. What are Tech Neck symptoms and solutions?

Tech Neck symptoms

If you’ve been experiencing headaches and shoulder/neck strain and pain, you might have Tech Neck. According to both www.spine-health.com and www.se-ortho.com, Tech Neck manifests in both the short-term and long-term.

Short-term symptoms

Over just a few hours, you may notice more muscle strain, tightness, and pain in your neck. You may also feel the tightness or strain in your shoulders and upper back. People also describe getting headaches when on their electronic device, even after a short period of time. These could all be symptoms of Tech Neck.

Long-term symptoms

Over a longer period of time, people often experience chronic neck and shoulder pain. They may also describe having more frequent headaches. Others say they feel pain radiating down their arm, which may include a tingling sensation.

Take preventative measures

If short-term or long-term symptoms are ignored, there is an increased risk for disc injury, pinched nerves and/or arthritis in the neck. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent or mitigate the symptoms of Tech Neck.

Tech Neck solutions

There’s no replacement for speaking to your healthcare professional if you are already experiencing symptoms.  But if you’re trying to be proactive, here are a few tips and stretching exercises to try from Southeast Orthopedic Specialists, www.spineuniverse.com and www.spine-health.com.

Tips while sitting at your desk

There are a few things you can do when sitting at a desk and working on a laptop desktop. First, you can change your position every 30 minutes for 30 seconds. You can also stretch the opposite direction you’ve been facing. By taking breaks often, you can alleviate spine strain. In addition, by staying physically active, it can help to minimize the impact of some bad spine habits.

For prevention at your desk

Does your current workstation support the following goals?  The goal is to be sitting up straight and tall, looking straight ahead. In addition, you should have your:

  • Eyes should align with the top third of the screen.
  • Forearms should be approximately parallel to the floor when typing.
  • Elbows should be at the side.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor with the thighs parallel to the floor.

Avoid consistently rotating your body to one side or the other for repetitive tasks to minimize aggravating joints and soft tissue in your neck and back.

What if your current workspace doesn’t support these goals? You may need to first assess how you currently work, where the problems are, and how best to solve them.  Maybe you need to consider a different chair or desk configuration (or a variable height desk) to get proper positioning. If you work on a laptop, a separate monitor or a separate keyboard and mouse could help to both align your line of sight to the monitor and get the proper height of the keyboard. While it might take some time and money, it’s worth the expense.  Not addressing problems now, can cause you pain and medical expenses in the future.

Tips for heavy smartphone users

There are a few tips that can help prevent Tech Neck. If you spend a lot of time on your smartphone, look up from the screen every 5 minutes or so. Even better than looking up, bring the smartphone up to eye level. You can also do some easy neck stretches and exercises. 

Three stretches that can help

Chin tuck

Move your chin towards your chest, holding for 5 seconds as you feel a comfortable stretch from your neck to the base of your skull.  Repeat 10 times.

Side bending

Tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear close to the shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head farther into the stretch. Hold 20 seconds.  Bring your head back to the center, and then tilt it to the left, again holding 20 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Side-to-side head rotation

Rotate your chin towards your right shoulder. Hold 20 seconds. You may use your hand to push your head farther into the stretch.  Bring your head back to the center, and then rotate it to the left, again holding 20 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Armed with this information, it’s unlikely that you’ll choose to forgo using the powerful technology that moves you productively through your day.  However, make a note to be more mindful of your body positioning while plugged in to help prevent the aches and pains (and potential long-term health problems) associated with Tech Neck.

While using technology can definitely improve our lives, spending too much time on it can also create issues too. To help use your time efficiently, look for tools like the iStratus® DayPlanner to optimize your schedule. For more information about getting the most out of your iPhone and optimal ways for best managing your work and personal life, visit iStratus.

Ann Brennantech neck, symptoms