Cell phones and tablets are a modern-day convenience that make many things in our day-to-day routine easier for us. Despite the convenience factor, many people would agree that they can be a real pain in the neck, literally. Virtually unheard of 5 years ago, tech neck is a term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. This strain injury is becoming increasingly popular in patients of all ages. Aggravating muscle pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back is occurring even in teens and adolescents.
How can these small mobile devices cause so much pain? It’s all in how you look at it. Literally. Dropping your head forward when looking down changes the natural curvature of your neck. This repetitive positioning can put extra and unnecessary strain on your muscles and cause uncomfortable wear and tear on the structure of your neck.
Neck muscles when aligned in their proper position, are designed to support the weight of your head (about 10 to 12 pounds). Research shows that for every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on those muscles. Looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck.
Besides muscle pain, tech neck can cause a host of other health concerns. Sitting in a slumped position restricts your lungs’ ability to expand, impairing your lung capacity. Inhaling less oxygen means your heart needs to pump harder to distribute more oxygen-carrying blood through your body.
Three Tips To Prevent Tech Neck
Straighten Up. Learn proper posture and neck alignment by peeking at your profile in a mirror. If you’re standing correctly, you should be able to draw a vertical line from your ear to your shoulder.
Arch Back. If your posture isn’t perfect, try doing some shoulder extensions. Arch your neck and upper back backward, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears. This simple stretch can alleviate stress and muscle pain.
Look Forward. Rather than tilting your chin down to read your mobile device, raise the device to eye level. The same goes for your desktop computer. Your monitor screen should be at eye level so your head isn’t perpetually dropping and causing muscle strain.