Screens, for better or worse, likely play a major role in your life. On the good side, they can help you conduct work, stay in touch with friends and family, play games, and read informative articles. Despite spending so much time on screens, most people haven’t changed their posture to adapt to them. Whether at work or during personal time, you may slouch, hunch, and slump while using screens. The end result? Tech neck.
Although not an official medical term, tech neck is the pain and soreness caused by looking down at screens for extended periods of time. Although seemingly innocuous, it can lead to some serious pain. Luckily, there are ways to correct your posture and prevent tech neck.
If you’re developing tech neck or think you have it, R. James Warren, MD, and the rest of our team at Apollo Pain Management in Sun City Center, Florida, will help you get things under control. With better habits and high-quality pain management care, you’ll be back to enjoying your screen time.
Odds are you spend a lot of your time on screens, whether for work or pleasure. According to NewYork-Presbyterian Health System, Americans spend a daily average of 5 hours and 53 minutes with digital media, including 3 hours and 17 minutes a day on nonvoice activities on mobile devices. That’s an astounding amount of time spent looking down at your phone.
As far as tech neck goes, screen time alone isn’t the issue. After all, screens are modern necessities. The problem is your posture. Merely looking down at a screen all day can be too much for the muscles in your neck and upper back.
Your head is heavy. The average adult head weighs 10-12 pounds. Your neck is designed to hold up your head in its normal upright position, where the pressure on the muscles is the same as the actual weight. This makes sense, as the normal head position is upright and straight ahead.
As you look down, gravity and pressure will make your head exponentially heavier. At a 45 degree angle, which is pretty common for smartphone usage, your head will weigh 49 pounds. Increase that angle to the 60 degrees preferred by close readers, and your neck muscles will contract to support 60 pounds of weight. No wonder your muscles are sore and achy.
Your first thought when trying to prevent tech neck may be to sit straight as an arrow in your office chair or couch. Unfortunately, this is actually counter-productive, as it puts too much pressure on the discs in your back. Instead, try to lean back at about a 25-30 degree angle. You’ll know you’re at the right angle when your head would fall backward instead of forward if you dozed off. Other prevention tips include:
When working, try to get up every 30 minutes and move around, even if it’s only for a minute. Your neck muscles will appreciate the quick break.
Move your monitor up to be more at eye level to avoid looking down. Furthermore, try standing. If you have a standing desk or a lift for your monitor, use it as often as possible.
At work, schedule meetings or lunch to break up long periods of time spent in front of the screen. Furthermore, try to get an office chair with a headrest. Touching your head against the headrest will give your neck a break. At home, try to take breaks as well, so you’re not staring at a screen for long periods.
Are you suffering from tech neck? Dr. Warren and the team at Apollo Pain Management can help. Book an appointment over the phone today.