What Is Tech Neck? Exploring Causes, Prevention, And Treatment



May 30 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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It’s difficult to escape the digital age in a world driven by technology. Whether you’re at home, work, school or simply having some downtime, you’re likely spending hours each day switching from one screen to another. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs are parts of everyday life, but have you considered the toll this takes on your body? Tech neck is a modern-day ailment that might silently wreak havoc on your well-being without you even realizing it.

What Is Tech Neck?

Tech neck refers to the strain and discomfort experienced in your neck, shoulders and upper back after using electronic devices for extended periods. It’s a common symptom of looking down at screens for hours on end. You might not notice it at first, but over time, the repetitive motion of tilting your head forward can cause various issues.

If you’re a student or work a desk job, you likely spend around eight hours a day hunched over a computer screen. Then, you go home to relax, where you spend even more time scrolling through social media feeds, watching series in bed or slouchingg in front of the TV. This is extremely taxing on your neck and upper body.

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How Do You Fall Victim To Tech Neck?

Many jobs involve sitting in front of a computer most of the day. Typically, you’re hunched over answering emails or working on projects. Your head is tilted down, your shoulders rounded and your spine curved. This posture might seem harmless in the moment, but your body is silently protesting.

The human head is heavy, weighing around 10 pounds, and tilting it forward even slightly can increase the strain on your neck muscles. The more you do it, the more strain you put on your spine, leading to stiffness, soreness, headaches and even chronic pain.

The effects of tech neck extend further than mere discomfort. Prolonged poor posture can lead to long-term musculoskeletal issues. Over time, it can contribute to misalignments in your spine, nerve impingement and even disc herniation. Not to mention, its impact on your overall posture, creating a rounded upper back and forward head position.

Other common health effects of tech neck include:

  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
  • Poor posture
  • Increased risk of musculoskeletal issues over time
  • Tension headaches 
  • Nerve compression
  • Degenerative disc disease 
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What Can You Do To Combat Tech Neck?

If you’re struggling with tech neck and its effects, there are a few things you can do to cope with the discomfort:

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  • Practice good posture: Be mindful of your posture when using electronic devices. Keep your spine straight, shoulders relaxed and head in a neutral position.
  • Take breaks: Make a conscious effort to leave your desk and take a break from screen time. Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up, stretch, and give your neck and shoulders a break from the strain.
  • See a specialist: Specialists like physiatrists specialize in rehabilitative care. They can help you improve your mobility, and treat the musculoskeletal and nervous system complications that occur as a result of tech neck.
  • Adjust your workspace: Ensure your workstation is ergonomically set up to promote good posture. Invest in an adjustable chair, raise your computer monitor to eye level and use a supportive cushion to maintain a natural curve of your spine. An ergonomic workspace can also make you more productive and your tasks easier to complete.
  • Perform neck exercises: Add neck stretches and strengthening exercises into your daily routine to alleviate tension, and improve muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Use technology wisely: Consider using voice dictation or dictation software to reduce the amount of time you spend typing on your devices. Additionally, take advantage of features like text resizing to minimize the need to hunch over small screens.

Adjust Your Posture

By taking proactive steps to address tech neck, you can deal with discomfort and reduce the risk of long-term musculoskeletal issues. Treating your body with care is essential, especially in the digital age, where screens dominate daily life. The next time you reach for your phone or laptop, pause for a moment, check your posture and adjust it.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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