Lets Talk “Tech Neck”
The Mechanics of Tech Neck
Young adults age 18 to 24 send or receive an average of 109.5 text messages on a typical day. While this constant use of electronic devices may be great for keeping in touch and staying informed, it’s not great for the human body.
Having your head bent over a smartphone, tablet or laptop for hours on end can lead to a repetitive strain injury known as “tech neck” (or “text neck”).
When your head is bent forward over your device, it can put a lot of pressure on your neck. An adult’s head weighs 4.5 to 5.5 kilograms when it’s in the neutral position, according to a study published in Surgical Technology International. As the head tilts forward, the force on the neck increases. If your head is tilted forward 45 degrees, the force increases to 22 kilograms. At 60 degrees forward — like when you’re looking at your phone with your chin to your chest — it’s 27 kilograms. That’s a lot of pressure to put on the structures of your neck.
When you’re sitting up straight, you’re balancing the weight of your head above the neck. But when you lean forward, you’re moving the weight of the head in front of the neck. This puts stress on the joints and ligaments and muscles on the back side of the neck.
A Qualified Myotherapist can provide an individualised approach that incorporates ergonomic assessment, hands-on manual therapy and exercise/movement prescription as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing pain and increasing function.
Pain associated with “Tech Neck” usually follows a common patten where tension mounts even more in some muscles (chest, front of shoulders, neck and upper back) while others (middle back, rotator cuffs, lower trapezius) are left unused, leaving them sleepy and weak.
Saving Your Own Neck
You don’t have to completely shun your electronic devices to protect your neck. The following measures can help.
Stop and take a short break every 15 or 20 minutes, then move around and change your body and head positions.
Set your computer monitor at eye level. Raise your smartphone to eye level rather than lowering your head. And get a tablet holder to elevate your device close to eye level.
Use voice-to-text as often as possible.
When you’re using a device, spend as much time standing as you do sitting.
Consult a qualified myotherapist for guidance and exercises.