The average U.S. adult now spends 17 hours a day staring at a screen. All of that time spent staring at laptops, smartphones, and TV screens is taking a toll on our spinal health. More people than ever are suffering from tech neck. But what exactly is tech neck, and what can you do about it? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is a type of neck pain caused by bending your neck downward for an extended period of time. Essentially, it’s a repetitive injury and strain to the tissue and muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, and more.
If you spend more than an hour a day staring down at your phone or some other screen, then you have likely suffered from tech neck. After a while, your neck and shoulders start getting tense and stiff.
Up to 48% of workers around the world suffer from tech neck, but many experts believe virtually everyone suffers from tech neck to some degree because of our extensive screen habits.
Why is Tech Neck So Bad?
Tech neck can cause headaches, pain in the shoulders and neck, upper back pain, tingling or numbness in the hands, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating. While laptops and desktops can also cause tech neck, this is a condition that appears to be more commonly associated with smartphone use.
Tech neck can do more than cause pain. It can also cause posture problems. Looking down at your phone for hours on end can shorten your chest muscles and lengthen your neck muscles. This unnatural position puts more pressure on your neck.
Let’s put things into perspective.
- When you’re looking straight ahead, the weight of your head is about 10-12 pounds.
- Bending your neck just a little bit (15 degrees) doubles the weight of your head.
- If you’re bending your neck 45 degrees to look at your screens, you’re putting 50 pounds of weight on your shoulders, neck, and upper back muscles.
Imagine putting 50 pounds of weight on your cervical spine for hours each day. No wonder tech neck causes pain and tension!
Symptoms of Tech Neck
Tech neck can cause a variety of symptoms. Pain is the most obvious one, but people may also experience:
- Muscle tension in the upper back
- Numbness and tingling in the arms or fingers
- Tendonitis in the rotator cuff
- TMJ or dysfunction of jaw joints and muscles
- Weakness in the fingers and hands
For some people, the pain comes and goes. For others, it’s a chronic issue. You may even experience pain in the middle of your back, your shoulders, or your arms. Pain can sometimes be sharp, or you may just experience dull aching.
Over the long term, tech neck can cause herniated discs and nerve compression.
What to Do About Tech Neck
Tech neck can cause some uncomfortable symptoms, but the good news is that you can take steps to prevent or overcome the pain and tension.
Neck Stretches and Exercises
You may not be able to avoid tech neck entirely if you work in front of a computer or from your smartphone. But you can perform stretches and exercises to reduce the pain and tension, including:
- Chest opening: While sitting or standing, clasp your hands behind your head. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while pushing your elbows out to the side. You should feel a nice stretch in your chest.
- Chin tuck: Sit or stand with your spine straight. Pull your chin in towards your neck while keeping your head and neck straight (like you’re making a double-chin). Avoid tilting your head backward. Your chin should still be parallel to the floor. This position will help take pressure off your spine.
- Cobra pose: Lay down with your belly on the floor and your head looking down. Put your palms on the floor with your elbows bent and tucked in at your sides. Your palms should be positioned alongside your chest. Slowly lift your head and upper chest off the ground using minimal support from your hands. Hold for 15 seconds.
Place Screens in the Right Position
In today’s world, it’s incredibly difficult to just ditch screens entirely. They’ve become an integral part of our lives. But you can help prevent tech neck by ensuring that your screens are at eye level.
Hold your smartphone or tablet up to eye level (bonus – it will work your arm and shoulder muscles). If you’re at a desk, make sure that your screen is raised high enough to be at eye level.
Simple ergonomics can go a long way in bringing you some relief.
Use Natural Pain Relievers
As long as we continue using smartphones and computers, tech neck will be a problem. But taking steps to counteract the effects and even prevent them can help you avoid the long-term negative effects of this condition.
If you’re already in pain from tech neck, try using natural pain relievers. Topical solutions like our Frankincense DMSO gel bring quick, long-lasting pain relief without negative side effects. Plus, it also reduces stress and boosts your immune system! So you can feel good from the inside out!