In a world of tech, most people spend on average two to four hours a day texting and reading in a neck-bent position on their smartphones and mobile devices. That’s anywhere from 700-1,400 hours repeating this posture over the course of the year for most adults. Though teenagers seem to be the worst offenders, spending lengthy periods of time without rest. Drs. D’Amato recently pointed out in their announcement of Spinal Care Subscription Service that routine exams and treatment aid in optimal spinal health especially when it comes to the pain experienced in neck, shoulders, and back.
Searching the term “tech neck” returns plenty of articles describing the head and neck position when a mobile device is at waist or chest level resulting in the screen being the primary point of focus with head tilted down. This movement affects the front of the neck by compressing and tightening the muscle, tendon, and ligament structures. The back of the neck undergoes lengthening of the muscles, tendon, and ligament. It’s been reported on in many news sources and even researchers at Harvard Medical Health predict that 7 out of 10 people will experience neck aches at some point in their lives.
Both Drs. Christa and Ron D’Amato, have put more attention on “tech neck” at their practice, Atlas Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in Clifton, NJ. They acknowledge “it’s not realistic to think people will give up their mobile devices.”
Rather, they outline recommendations to help alleviate or prevent “tech neck” syndrome. First, limit the time spent in the bent-neck position and remember the benefits of practicing good posture instead of leaning over. “The way in which we hold our heads and bodies while interacting on mobile devices is within our control,” says Dr. D’Amato. “Educating our patients on proper posture decreases the risk of neck, shoulder and back pain”
Heads of the average adult range in weight of 10 to 12lbs. Ears line up with your shoulders and relaxed with shoulder blades pulled in presents very little stress to the neck in what is considered a neutral position. As the neck is tilted or bent the head falls forward and the weight on the spine increases dramatically.
The effect increases with degree of bend in the neck according to some studies. Tilted 15 degrees forward, the effect of the head’s weight increases the normal effect to 27 pounds. When tilted 60 degrees forward, up to 60 pounds of weight on the spine. Undue pressure is added to the spine as it falls further out of alignment when weight increases. It has been seen, over time, that improper posture can lead to herniated discs and pains in the neck and upper back/shoulders. Though “tech neck” is preventable, more serious cases may require surgery.
Proper posture has other health benefits, too. Another study showed increases in testosterone (male hormone), decreases in cortisol (a stress hormone), increased feelings of power and increased comfort with risk taking.
And the best and most obvious benefit is you’ll walk safely and avoid trips, falls, or accidents and not literally break your neck!
Read some quick tips for preventing and alleviating pain associated with “tech neck:
- Take Breaks Often at intervals of 15 minutes or so, consider spending 30 seconds resting your eyes and do some stretches in place.
- Hourly Time Outs altogether stop interacting with your device by getting up for a short walk or take a few minutes to break things up, working on another task.
- Routinely Exercise, strengthen your neck and back muscles. (See Dr. D’Amato’s suggestion of exercises from Elle Magazine here.)
- Position Screens Differently by holding your device close to eye level and avoid a bent-neck position. You can also by a holder, should your arms get tired from holding the screen higher. Or prop up your arms on a table to hold up your device comfortably. It’s suggested that if your work is performed on a laptop, a second monitor would help control your view and adjust height.
- Sit in a chair with a headrest as your chair’s ergonomics might help you avoid tech neck and maintain proper posture. When using your screen or device keep your head flush against the headrest as this fixed position will keep your neck from flexing forward and eyes from looking down.
- Use pain as a warning sign that If you experience neck pain or discomfort between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms, or frequent headaches, as signs to more serious ailments. Act quickly to change posture and avoid neck strain to eliminate head-forward postures.
Any or all of these methods might help to improve your posture and avoid “tech neck”, though if your pain and symptoms do not improve we’d suggest seeking the advice of a qualified health professional and discuss plans for necessary treatment. If you are from the Clifton, NJ area please stop in to start your Spinal Care Subscription Service and work towards optimal spinal health.
Drs. Ron and Christa D’Amato are both board certified Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractors through the Sweat Institute, http://www.atlasorthogonality.com, and trained with Founder of the Atlas Orthogonal Method, Dr. Roy Sweat. Both Drs. are ANJC Members. Dr. Christa has been a LeTip of Clifton board member for the past 10 years, and has volunteered her time with St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation. You can find Dr. Christa speaking publicly on health related topics at various businesses and organizations as well as providing Spinal Screenings to the community. Atlas Chiropractic & Rehabilitation has also been awarded with NJ Top Docs 2019 accolade and special recognition by Congressman Bill Pascrell during the Congressional Small Business Walk of 2019 for their outstanding and invaluable service to the community. *New Patients Only, No Medicare and not combinable with other offers.