Correcting Tech Neck
Our technology is great, but it comes with certain costs. One of those is the health of our cervical spine and our overall posture. Each and every one of us is guilty of holding our tablets, phones or other mobile devices such as wearables, laptops and gaming systems down low and craning our neck to look at the screen. This affects everything from hormone production to balance and eventually serious injuries which may require surgery to correct. Today we'll discuss what we can do to fight this new wellness battle.
WHAT IS TECH NECK?
"Tech neck" is the layman's term used to describe the consequences of long-term forward-leaning flexion of your head and neck while looking down at your phone, tablet or other device. It can cause muscle strain, disc injury, nerve impingement and arthritic changes in your neck -- as well as the development of added neck wrinkles, continual neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and shooting pain down your arms.
The average human head weighs 10-12 pounds, but according to one study, with the head tilted 15 degrees forward the effect of the head's weight is equal to 27 pounds. By the time you tilt your head to 60 degrees, that effect shoots up to 60 pounds. As that weight increases and the spin falls out of alignment and extra pressure is placed on the spine. This will trigger neck pain, herniated discs, and in more serious cases surgery may be required.
Correct posture has been linked to increases in testosterone (male hormone), decreases in cortisol (stress hormone), and increased feelings of power and comfort with risk-taking. In short, our posture affects us in many different ways and fixing postural imbalances should be a priority especially in our primarily sedentary, tech-driven society.
All of us have some degree of tech neck, due to the culture we live in. First, let's talk about ameliorating the symptoms we have:
I covered many neck and shoulder stretches and exercises in my prior article, Stretching & Strengthening for Computer Users. As applicable, I will indicate below when details of the stretch/exercise can be found in that article.
As regards the damage to the skin itself, dermatologists recommend that you exfoliate your chest and neck once a week using a mask, mild scrub or peel. You may also use neck rejuvenation patches, which are made by a variety of companies to reduce wrinkling and skin damage.
You likely already suffer the effects of tech neck, but in order to truly correct it, you will need to engage not only with treatment methods, but also take preventative measures to ensure you don't exacerbate the condition. Here are some things you can do in order to maintain proper cervical spine health:
If all of the above steps have been taken and your pain is still a problem, seek help from a qualified medical professional.
Jala Prendes, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist