5 Steps to Prevent Tech Neck
Updated: Jul 27
Do you remember the last time you weren't looking at a screen? Probably while sleeping. An average person spends the majority of their day on a digital screen. Especially those who’re working.
In the current work environment it is essential for every industry to use computers. Which indicates the average population is chronically using a screen at work and off work. This puts a lot of stress on one’s neck. The head tilts forward 30-45 degrees from neutral when on a phone or 10-15 degrees forward when looking at a computer screen. This causes your neck carry an extra 40 lbs of weight.
When you look down at your screen, your neck muscles "contract" to hold your head up. So, the more you look down, the harder your neck works to hold your head in place. This strain and tires your neck muscles, causing a dull pain. I’m sure you've had this pain before, but you may have not recognized it as a strain in the neck from the muscles. This is what we call Tech Neck!
This should be avoided. Prolonged periods of strain can cause your discs to weaken, and eventually rupture and cause you to have a reversed neck curve and degeneration. It is as bad as it sounds.
So, what can we do to help our neck be healthier? How can we work hard in front of a screen while maintaining the health of our neck?
Here are some tips to help you have a healthier neck, while being in front of a screen.
1. Posture is always key
You've probably been asked to "sit up" many times. But not everyone knows how to sit upright correctly. Most of us just straighten our backs and call it a day. And that is a good way to make things worse. Sitting the right way is the very first step when it comes to avoiding tech neck, and here are four ways to do it-
Place a folded towel or cloth (about 3 inches thick) between your lower back and the chair. Your lumbar spine (lower spine) gets the support it needs, and that's very important. Or get a lumbar support to attach to your chair.
Work on pointing your chest bone or sternum up towards the ceiling. Not towards the wall ahead, but upward. Do not lift your shoulders up! This posture helps reduce tension and strain on your neck and shoulders.
To get rid of your "neck tilting", try sitting on a chair with a headrest. And always make sure that the back of your head is in contact with the headrest. Your chin should be pointing forward at 45 -65 degrees. Practicing this could help you have less pain at the base of your head.
2. Stay hydrated!
When we're busy working hard, it's easy to skip some basics-like water! As simple as it sounds, people find it difficult to keep up with the uptake of water while sitting at their desks! The discs in your spine are composed mainly of water. That is necessary to maintain disc height and spinal alignment. So, staying hydrated is a great way to protect your spine from degenerating. And this, in turn, is a great way to avoid tech neck.
Dehydration may cause your muscles and ligaments to tighten, resulting in stiffness. This makes it extremely difficult to move your neck and may sometimes cause pain. So, make sure you drink at least 1.2 liters of water a day.
And that's plain old water to the rescue!
3. Take breaks
Don't fall into the trap of thinking breaks as a "waste" of work-time. Taking proper breaks will help you be more efficient and allow you to work longer if your job requires you to. Think of it as preparing your body for a marathon.
Just look away from your screen every 30 to 50 mins, stand up, and take a walk for 10 mins or so. Set reminders to track your breaks and intervals.
“Speaking of which, this is an excellent time to get some stretches in. And that brings us to the next point-”
4. Do some good old stretching
Stretching is a great way to relax or "refresh" your muscles. On your break, you can do these 3 super-effective stretches:
Stand facing the corner of your wall. Make sure you're about 2 feet away from it. Place your forearm on each wall with your elbows at shoulder height.
Now just lean as forward as possible and hold the position for about 30 seconds.
The wall angel is another exercise you could try. It helps strengthen your neck and upper back muscles.
· Stand with your back pressed up against the wall.
· Let both your feet be about 9 inches away from the wall, and bend your knees slightly.
· Now raise your arms over your head with the back of your arms touching the wall.
· Keep the arms in contact with the wall as you lower them down to shoulder level. Do it in 3 reps of 15.
Your basic side neck stretch would still do wonders.
· Just tilt (not turn) your head to your right, moving the ear towards your shoulder. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
· Now repeat the same on the left.
· This exercise stretches your neck's muscles and soft tissues and helps increase its range of motion.
· It can easily be done the wrong way and you can do more harm than benefit. So, do not force the side bend. Naturally let it rest at the angle and put 2% pressure on your head to allow stretch. Going gentle on this exercise is crucial! Do not press so hard to the point of pain or pop!
5. Keep your screens at eye level.
Raise your laptops or monitor to eye level so that your neck is in the neutral position. Keeping your screens at eye level is a great way to ensure you do not get soreness, dull aches, or muscle spasms in your neck.
Getting a monitor stand for your computers might be a good idea. And if you've got a laptop, getting a standing desk might resolve this issue. These are beneficial purchases, and your neck will thank you for them.
Three Tech neck myths–Be careful!
Advice and suggestions are always floating around. And unfortunately, a lot of the advice comes from people who might not be aware of the matter. Here are 3 tech neck myths you must look out for-
"Just sit with your back straight!"
This is actually a good way to end up with neck and back pain. What happens is–when you forcefully straighten your back, you put additional strain on the discs of your lower back. And this makes no difference to your neck. It still has to strain to hold your head up.
Instead, reclining about 30 degrees backward on your chair is what'll help you out. It arches your back and reduces the weight on your discs.
"My job isn't physically draining. I'm probably safe."
You're probably at more risk than those with physically tasking jobs. Those who go through lots of "heavy lifting" are vulnerable to muscle pain. But they also manage to put enough work in to strengthen their muscles and bones. Also, their bodies go through a wide range of activities in a day.
An individual with a desk job, on the other hand, may strain his neck and hold that position for prolonged hours. And when you do not "move around" enough to relax these muscles, you've successfully opened the doors to sore neck and back muscles.
"Just rest it out."
Sure, resting is essential to help relax your muscles–for a short time. But that is not the solution for a bad posture or poor habits. Also, if you're experiencing chronic neck pain, resting could only add to your problems. The lack of activity could cause stiffness and pain.
So, do some exercises in your daily routine. Keep your blood pumping, and let your body stay alive!
"Ah, neck pain is common with age."
No, it's not. If you're living with neck aches, taking it as a part of life, please know that it can be fixed. Getting the proper care from chiropractors for neck and shoulder pain will always make it better. You deserve that comfortable life!
Remember–when it comes to healthcare, problems postponed are problems multiplied.
Get the Lotus care
If you're experiencing chronic neck/back pain, getting proper care must be your topmost priority. Please, do not live in pain. Do not resign yourself to just living with a neck ache. You do not need to stay stuck. Learn about natural alternatives that are available. If you're looking for
neck adjustments, look no further. Lotus chiropractic care in Dunwoody, Georgia, welcomes you with open arms.
At Lotus Chiropractic care, we strive for excellence. Dr Tanvi Desai is among the top chiropractors in the country. And here, she provides corrective care, parental care, and pediatric treatment. The focus here is finding out your needs and carrying out individualized treatment.