Tech Neck – In the era of remote working, online education and face timing families, most people would agree that their screen time has been dramatically higher in recent years. The problem is, all that screen time can be a real pain in the neck.
Facing downwards allows gravity to pull harder at our heads, which can worsen and create conditions such as premature sagging skin on the face and neck, leading many to get a neck lift or other cosmetic surgeries.
These issues that come from extended screen time aren’t just superficial either, “tech neck” is a term used to refer to the repetitive strain put on the neck from looking down at our screens for long periods.
What’s Tech Neck?
After a long period of looking down at a screen, either from schoolwork, office work, or streaming a movie, your neck is likely to feel quite stiff and in need of a good stretch. This is because the neck muscles are working and contracting to keep your head stable while you’re looking down. Unfortunately, the extended strain constantly working makes these muscles sore and weaker; similarly, your arm would get tired holding something above your head for long periods.
Tech neck has been on the rise as technology has integrated itself more and more into our daily lives and is especially prevalent right now due to remote online being the norm.
Tech Neck Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms of suffering from tech neck. For starters, stiffness, soreness, and tenderness are early indicators that too much pressure and strain occur during screen time. It may start off only hurting briefly while performing your tasks and wear off quickly after you return to normal posture, but over time the condition can worsen and linger even when you’re not looking at any screens. Further symptoms can include frequent headaches and migraines, as well as muscle spasms and consistently creaky/cracking joints in the neck and shoulder.
Some people have reported having a tingling or numbness in their hands as a result of tech neck, often when paired with keyboard-related activities.
Over time, a person’s posture and spine can be damaged, resulting in the need for chiropractic or other medical help to alleviate the symptoms of tech neck.
Preventing Tech Neck
The easiest way to prevent tech neck is the simplest, but also the hardest – stop looking down. But rather than positioning yourself in a perfectly straight line and looking dead ahead, which can actually make your spine more rigid, it’s actually better to sit with a slight recline of about 25 degrees, provided you have proper lumbar back support. This is the optimal position that provides less pressure on your spine.
This can be easier said than done, especially if your setup for ergonomic materials is limited, so at the very least, it is recommended you get up and move around every 15-30 minutes of screen time, taking note to carefully look around, turning your neck and providing it with gentle stretches.