Your body is a precisely balanced biomechanical machine, well-suited to a wide range of movement and activities. And it relies on that wide range of movements and activities to stay healthy. It can handle occasional sessions of unusual postures, but when you’re forced to hold these for hours on end, problems start to happen.
Anytime you’re tied to a technological device that coaxes you into bad posture, your involvement can make you unaware of the negative conditions you’re creating. When your neck and shoulders start to tighten and pain begins, it’s called tech neck. The team at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center can help you when the problem becomes chronic, but with attention to just a few points, you may be able to combat the symptoms of tech neck on your own.
Force loads and your neck
When you’re sitting or standing straight, your head creates a one-to-one load on your spine, with the full weight of your skull, about 10 to 12 pounds on average, centered over your spine. When you tip your head forward about 45 degrees, the load on your body increases to approximately 50 lbs. Your muscles need to work harder to compensate for this unbalanced force.
The strains don’t stop there, though. The discs between the vertebrae of your neck must now deal with uneven force, too. The unbalanced load can lead to herniation, where the inner gel filling of the discs breaks through the tough outer shell.
These forces create tension, irritation, and pain, and if they’re left unaddressed, they could cause more complex and long-lasting damage. Fortunately, if your symptoms are minor, or if they haven’t yet begun, you may be able to limit the problems that tech neck creates.
How to combat tech neck
The key to all of these techniques is about breaking up the amount of time you spend in compromised posture because of your smartphone, tablet, or other tech device. While none of these strategies is hard, they each take some discipline and commitment and, perhaps the most difficult part, time away from digital screens. A few small changes, though, may be enough to break the cycle.
Lift your phone
Your arms will be tired, yes, but raising your phone to normal eye level from time to time gives your neck a break. The key here isn’t to abandon one posture for another, but to build a variety of motion into your habits.
Take regular breaks
Don’t get so locked in a task that your body gets trapped. Stand for a minute or two every 15 minutes, if you’re sitting, or sit if you’re standing. You may find those quick breaks jumpstart your work, too.
Add stretches to your quick break. Choose those that gently run your neck through its full range of motions. Include your arms and shoulders, too.
Whether it’s a low-tech sticky note on your computer monitor or a downloaded posture app, find a way to remind yourself to reset to a balanced posture. Sit or stand up straight, head high and shoulders back. Your neck will thank you.
Contact Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center by phone or online at any of their three locations if self care isn’t enough to clear up your tech neck. There’s a solution to your discomfort, so book your consultation to find it, now.