Do you have Tech Neck? If you spend hours each day with your head flexed and forward looking at a mobile device or laptop screen, then the chances are good that you do.
The name might sound funny, but the potential consequences are not. If left untreated, Tech Neck can damage your cervical spine. It can cause muscle strain, disk injuries, arthritic changes to the neck, and nerve impingement. It’s also a culprit in chronic neck, shoulder, and arm pain.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to prevent Tech Neck and avoid future pain arising from it. Here are five things you can do starting now to protect your neck.
#1: Take Time Away From Devices
If you have a job that requires you to spend a lot of time using a mobile device or laptop, give yourself a break every 15 or 20 minutes. Standing up and walking around for a few minutes (and thus changing the position of your head and neck) will give your spine a chance to adjust and minimize the chances that you’ll end up with Tech Neck.
#2: Use Technology to Your Advantage
What if you’re the type of person who gets immersed in work and forgets to take a break? Instead of ignoring your need for rest, try using technology to your advantage by setting an alert or alarm to remind you to take your break. You can use your cell phone’s built-in alarm clock for this purpose. Some of the new digital watches have reminder functions as well.
#3: Elevate Your Device to the Level of Your Eyes
Most people who have Tech Neck get it because they lower their heads and tilt them forward to look at their devices. One of the best ways to give your neck a break is to invest in a stand or holder that will keep your device at the level of your eyes. For example, you might buy a stand for your tablet or phone. If you use a laptop that you keep in your lap (or if you have a low desk) try elevating so it’s as close to level with your eyes as possible.
#4: Choose a Good Chair
What chair are you sitting in when you look at your device? For some people, a cheap chair can contribute to the problem. Try getting a comfortable chair with a neck rest. The neck rest can serve as a simple reminder of what your head’s position should be. If it’s touching the back of your neck, then you know that your posture is good. It may take a bit of practice at first, but over time, the right chair can help to improve your posture and protect your neck.
#5: Listen to Your Pain
Ultimately, any pain you experience is your body trying to tell you something. When you ignore neck and shoulder pain, you run the risk of doing permanent damage to your neck. If you notice pain in your neck, shoulders, and arms, it’s a signal that you’ve got to do something to alleviate it. Try changing your position or taking a break from your device.
The five steps we’ve outlined here can help to reduce the chances that you’ll develop Tech Neck. However, if you implement what we’ve taught you here and still experience neck, shoulder, and arm pain, you should make an appointment with a qualified health professional to help you address it and prevent further damage.