If you spend hours on end every day in front of the computer, then you are probably no stranger to ‘Tech Neck.’ It is a term used to describe the soreness and stiffness one experiences in their neck after they are sitting in the same posture in front of the computer, typically at work.
You might also be surprised to know that you are not alone; as many as 30% of Americans suffer from tech neck on a regular basis. As the name also suggests, the leading cause behind tech neck relates to our relationship with technology.
We have compiled this guide to discuss in detail what neck pain is, the causes behind it, and what you can do to avoid it.
What is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is the frequent stiffness, pain, and soreness you experience when you are keeping your head and neck forward and downwards for extended periods of time. Your head weighs around 10lbs, so even if you move the center of gravity just slightly forward, you might experience neck pain.
This typically happens when you scroll through your phone, tablet, or digital device for hours. It is also caused by hunching over a laptop for a long time. It might even occur at night while you are in bed. Using such electronic devices places excellent pressure on your spine and causes tension in your back, shoulder, and upper body.
Hence, they lead to soreness in the upper back because the posture pulls your spinal cord and nerves. When this pain persists, you also end up experiencing chronic neck pain. Such pain can make everyday tasks, such as driving, getting dressed in the morning, and cooking, excruciating.
Why Is It So Bad for You?
Tech neck is not simply a one-off condition. It can build up over time and spread to other parts of your body. Alternatively, it might go away and then come back through sporadic bursts. It may often feel like a dull ache or excruciating pain. In some cases, it can even lead to headaches.
The main reason why tech neck is so bad for you is that it is not just neck pain. Prolonged pain due to tech neck can lead to various long-term problems, some of which might never go away. These include:
Joint and muscle strain
Herniated or slipped intervertebral discs
Aggravate existing spinal conditions
Long term spinal degradation and wear and tear
Disc injuries or arthritis
Permanent abnormal curvature wherein you lose the natural curve of your spine
Signs and Symptoms of Tech Neck
The most obvious sign of tech neck is pain. It can occur on your neck and your, back and shoulders. In some cases, it might be extended to the arms and leave the hands feeling numb. Long-term tech neck can be detected in older individuals who have developed a bending of the spine that is not natural.
If you think you might be experiencing tech neck, look out for the following symptoms:
Headaches or migraines
Upper body tension
Pain in the jaw muscles and joints
Numbness or tingling of the hands
Hands feeling weak
Rotator cuff tendonitis
How to Treat Tech Neck
If you notice that you have been experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms for a long time, it is important that you visit your primary care physician. They will help treat the neck pain. The earlier you get it treated, the better. As mentioned earlier, prolonged neck pain can lead to permanent health concerns.
Not all neck pain is tech neck, so receiving a diagnosis from a health practitioner is imperative. Your doctor may create a treatment plan for you that will include the following:
Spinal cord stimulation
Heat and ice therapy
How to Avoid Tech Neck
While you cannot avoid technology, you can avoid experiencing tech neck. There are tons of ways you can do this. Here is a list of our top tips on preventing tech neck from developing:
Practice Good Posture
Chances are that you probably don’t pay much attention to your posture. This is the most common reason why you might be suffering from tech neck. Hence, you should ensure that you keep your spine in a neutral position.
This can be done by keeping your back straight, planting your feet straight on the ground, and distributing your weight evenly across your hips.
Get a Height Adjustable Standing Desk
Another leading cause behind tech neck is staring at laptops and computer screens for hours with little to no movement. You can alleviate this problem by getting a height-adjustable standing desk from FlexiSpot. You can alternate between sitting and standing while simultaneously working.
When you are standing, you are less likely to hunch your neck and more likely to keep your back in a neutral position. This one from FlexiSpot is easy to assemble, quite spacious, and one of the best things you can do for your neck.
Take Breaks from Technology
Tech breaks are absolutely necessary to avoid straining your neck. If your job requires using computers, then it is important that you undertake non-work-related tasks that don’t involve the use of technology, for example, taking a nap, going for a walk, or chatting with friends.
Keep Your Monitor at Eye-Level
As mentioned earlier, tech neck is typically caused by hunching downwards and bending your neck. Hence, to avoid this, you should raise your monitor higher to be at eye level to you. Holding your device up might be challenging on your own since it will put a strain on your arms, which is why a standing desk for this purpose is also useful.
The desk from FlexiSpot lets you adjust the height so that you can prop up the computer or device on it.
You can minimize strain on your neck through regular stretching. Not to mention, it is a quick activity you can incorporate throughout your day- even at work. For example, you can roll your shoulders up and back while keeping your head back while sitting in your chair. You should also do chin tucks and stretch your arms and back.
Another basic way to reduce the frequency of tech neck is through frequent hydration. Your spine comprises of discs that are made up mainly of water. Hence, you should ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day. This will keep the discs pliable and healthy.
Get a Chair with a Headrest
If you get a height-adjustable standing desk from FlexiSpot, you should also consider getting a chair with a headrest. Make sure that you rest your head on it while using the desk. This will prevent strain on your neck since you keep your back in a neutral position and not flex or bend your neck forward.
Get Up and Move
Chances are that you work for hours in a sedentary position in front of your computer, which is why you might frequently be suffering from tech neck. If so, you should ensure that you get up at least once an hour to move.
Even if it is just for a minute, you should get up and stretch, walk around, and roll your neck to loosen up your tight muscles. This will get the blood circulating, reduce stiffness in the muscles, and is generally great for your whole body.
You should perform some form of exercise on a regular basis that does not lead to neck pain but instead will strengthen your back and neck muscles. Even if it is for 20 minutes a day, you should do it. This will also improve your respiratory rate and keep your body in good shape.
Moreover, exercise will also ease the tension in your neck. Some form of exercise you can consider doing is swimming, walking, jogging, or using an elliptical or a stationary bike.
Seek Professional Help
Finally, if the tech neck is bothering you a lot, you should visit a massage therapist or a chiropractor. They can treat the side effects of tech neck. However, if the pain is frequent and persistent, you should visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
We spend countless hours on our computers, laptops, and other digital devices. Hence, it’s not uncommon to suffer from neck pain and stiffness. However, if you suffer from tech neck, it is important that you do something about it.
Follow the aforementioned tips to avoid experiencing tech neck. The best thing you can do for your neck and work set-up gets a height-adjustable standing desk from FlexiSpot. You can adjust the height of the desk within minutes to switch from standing and sitting. This will help you stay active, keep your back in a neutral position, and avoid strain on your neck.
Visit FlexiSpot to learn more about this incredible desk!