I wonder how many of you reading this will have experienced frequent pain and discomfort in your neck area. Maybe at the end of the day you’ve a nagging or sharp pain neck pain, or postural fatigue with general shoulder pain and tightness? Well I most certainly have, and recently came to realise it’s because of my increasing use of technical equipment, in particular my mobile phone and laptop computer.
“Tech neck” or “Text neck” as the condition is now being called by health professionals, is an overuse syndrome, or a repetitive stress injury, caused when we hold our heads forward and downward for long periods of time. In this position a lot of tension is created in the muscles of the neck and across our shoulders, causing both acute and chronic pain, and for some people cervicogenic headaches. The condition is modern and prevalent as people of all ages now spend hours in front of devices for both work and recreation.
Text neck feels more uncomfortable when the neck is flexed forward for periods of time, such as when looking down texting. The pain usually affects the neck, upper back and/or the shoulders, with most people experiencing tightness and reduced mobility. Spending hours with our head forward and shoulders rounded, makes it impossible to maintain good posture (with ears directly over our shoulders). The pain may feel intense, or a stabbing pain in one spot or it may present as a general achiness and soreness over a broader area.
If you spend hours in front of your screen, as I am doing right now writing this article, you may also increase the risk of eyestrain and headache. So do yourself a favour, remember the 20/20 rule, and give yourself a break. Look at your screen and concentrate on work for 20 minutes, and then look away from the screen for 20 minutes. Maybe do other desk jobs, or get up and walk around, make a coffee or take a rest, it will keep your body fresh and healthy. If you don’t help yourself, the muscles at the base of your neck could go into spasm with the pain referred on upwards causing bad headaches.
Be aware of your posture because Tech neck could lead to inflamed neck ligaments, nerve irritation, rounded shoulders and possible curvature of the upper spine. Adjust your seating, sit upright close to your keyboard, with both feet flat on the floor. Keep your head elevated with chin up, even if you need to cast your eyes down to the screen. A poking chin may also be a problem if you sit too low with screen set too high and this can cause neck pain and hunched back. It’s important for you to improve your posture and correct sitting habits, especially if your chest muscles are tight, your upper back is weak and your shoulders increasingly rounded.