Do you spend most of the day hunched over your desk, staring at the screen of your computer? When you leave your desk, are you glued to the screen on your smartphone or tablet? This could be causing damage to your neck and shoulder joints.
‘Tech Neck’, as it is sometimes referred as, is the strain in your neck and shoulder muscles that develops as a result from excessively craning your neck down when you are looking at a phone or a portable tablet device.
Although many of us will use such devices when we are working at throughout the day there are great ways to ensure they don’t cause too much damage to your spine and neck joints.
One key way is to make sure you limit the time you spend on such devices – difficult, we know! It is advised that for every 15-20 minutes you spend on your device, you should take a 3 minute break. This is due to the fact that it is easy for a posture to change when we hold a position for a long period of time. Really try to limit yourselves to periods of 15-20 minutes where possible. It will also help with eye strain too!
When you can’t avoid using your gadgets, making sure you’re in a suitable posture can be crucial to avoiding strain. Rather than hunching forward to look at your screen, sit up straight and bring your phone or tablet up to eye level. This will help keep your spine aligned rather than curved, and help should reduce overall strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. This will feel a little odd at first, but it will soon become a natural – and good – habit.
If you are in an office, you may want to think about a tablet/phone holder and foldable laptop desk. This will help to raise your electronic devices up to your eye line, instead of you having to hunch over to use them. This also applies to your computer screen. For most people, the computer screen is located below your natural eye line leaving your head and shoulders to naturally hunch downwards. By raising your computer screen to your eye level, you will force yourself to keep your head in a more natural position. This in turn will make you sit up straighter.
We also advise some small stretches to help relieve the tension in your upper body:
- Bend your neck to the right so that your ear moves closer to your shoulder. Relax and hold for 20 seconds.
- Return to centre, and then repeat the move to the left. Do a repetition of five.
A further exercise is to do a simple chin tuck.
- Tilt your head down and tuck your chin into your neck.
- Hold for five seconds, and then look back up. Do a repetition of ten.
These exercises will help release any tension that might be caused due to excessive strain from hunching over. Be sure to listen to your body when you use your technology. If you have any aches, pain or tightness in your neck, shoulders and upper back, it usually indicates that you are not looking at your devices in the best positions. This, in turn, causes imbalances in the body which reveal themselves in your joints, muscles or tendons. A Chiropractor can easily assess and spot these postural issues, and help you reduce your ‘Tech Neck’.