What Is Tech Neck And How Can You Improve It?

Did you know that with every degree you move your head forward, the force of your head resting on your neck increases by roughly six kilograms?

So, when you’re scrolling endlessly through social media as you wait for your dinner to cook, that could be thirty extrakilograms tugging at your spine and the surrounding muscles! And just like overuse of any muscle, this can cause muscle fatigue, which can lead to headaches and neck tightness, stiffness, and pain. In other words, tech neck!

In modern times, it’s nearly impossible to avoid technology. Let’s face it, most of us are glued to one screen or another throughout the day (we see you there, reading this on your device!). Unfortunately, this dependence on something that can be very helpful in many ways can create short- and long-term physical issues.

Neck strain caused by technology use can become a chronic pain issue with reduced mobility and functionality. The important things to remember are it can be improved, and it can be prevented. And we don’t mean by throwing away technology.

Why Does Tech Neck Occur?

Believe it or not, our bodies were not designed for our head to hang at an angle as we sit bent over staring at a screen. Our joints and soft tissues just don’t like it! Consequently, the cervical neck extensor muscles become elongated as they fight to hold your head up. The flexion of your neck, maintained as you type out your twentieth email of the day, pushes your shoulders forward into a hunched posture, which means your neck goes even further away from its foundation of support, aggravating the soft tissues and joints in the area.

Symptoms Of Tech Neck

It can be easy to overlook the aches and niggles at first. You might know it’s connected to your technology use, but what can be done? You can’t just stop using it! However, it’s important to be aware that symptoms are brewing so that you can make changes before they become chronic issues that are hard to reverse.

Symptoms that can indicate technology and gravity are starting to win the fight against your neck are:

  • Stiffness in your neck and shoulders, particularly when using your devices for an extended period.
  • A dull ache in the area or sharp, burning pain.
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms and fingers.
  • Headaches that come on while using your device, or shortly after.

How Can You Improve Tech Neck?

No matter how long you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to make changes. It would be easy for us to say don’t use your devices, but that’s just not practical. The important thing is to make sure your body is in the best position possible when you are using technology, and to look after your body before and after use.

  • Be mindful of where you are holding your device. Bring it upwards so that your eyes are not drawing your head downwards as they try to read the screen you have resting on your lap.
  • Take regular breaks. Look up, move around, gently shake around your arms, loosen your shoulders, roll your head, wriggle your fingers, pull your shoulders blades together and open up your chest.
  • Make changes to your set up. Put your screen up on a stand or a mount and then use a separate keyboard, for example.
  • Do some gentle stretches and exercises. We can prescribe a suitable program personalised for your specific needs.
  • Consider ways in which you could decrease your technology use in one sitting. Try time tracker apps or make a phone call rather write than countless texts, for example. This can help your overall wellbeing, as well as your neck.

Osteopathy And Physiotherapy Care For Tech Neck

When you are experiencing neck pain and reduced mobility due to tech neck, it can be beneficial to seek professional help. Physiotherapy and osteotherapy are great options for increasing your comfort and improving your movement. At the Whole Body Clinic, we offer physio and osteo options, and can combine treatments when advantageous.

There are various techniques and methods our team can use to help your situation. After providing a thorough assessment, we will identify the issues and develop a personalised treatment plan. We also provide advice and guidance on how to make a better routine and create self-management habits.

Our experienced and qualified physios and osteopaths use non-invasive techniques to focus on the structural and musculoskeletal factors that are causing pain and stiffness, and to improve blood flow to the affected area.

These can include:

We can also develop a stretching and exercise program for you to improve and maintain strength and flexibility at home, with a focus on posture correction.

Contact us to book an appointment for an initial consultation so that we can help you improve and avoid tech neck.