How tech neck develops and tips to prevent it

May 5, 2020
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Working long hours at the computer and using smart devices can severely impact many parts of your body and majorly, the spine. Out of many physical disorders, one of them is Tech neck, very prevalent these days.

Modern lifestyle throws new challenges for us. Can one imagine life without smartphones? Laptops and other smart devices? Certainly not.

But because of this lifestyle and workstyle, we encounter numerous health problems. Can you believe that usage of smart devices can lead to severe structural deformities and maladies in the body? Yes, it is true!

Read all about Tech neck and save yourself from this lifestyle disorder.

What is a tech neck?

Tech neck is a kind of ailment or disorder that haunts almost everyone using a smartphone, a tab, or a computer. It would not be false to call this a lifestyle disorder.

It’s a common sight to see people looking into their smartphones most of the time. The smart devices, including the tabs and ipads, are a source of communication, entertainment, socializing, gaming, office work, reading, and many more things.

People hunch over their phones for hours at a go, oblivious of what is going on around. In this process, the delicate neck gets subjected to tremendous pressure and strain.

While using your device, your head naturally lowers down to more than 45 degrees angle to look at the screen, which you in hand or keep on the table.

The neck muscles and the spine are not to hold the head at that uncomfortable angle for a long time. The delicate neck can comfortably keep the 10 – 11 lbs heavy head when it is perfectly upright. All regular movements of the head have also factored in.  Typically, the neck can very easily support the heavy head in all typical day to day activities.

But when the head forward tilts 45degrees and above, its regular weight on the neck equals almost 60 pounds. That is nearly 5 -6 times the designed capacity. Also, holding the neck in that position for hours together is real torture for the neck muscles, the cervical spine (the seven vertebras), the shoulder muscle, and back muscles.

Generally, Tech Neck is a term for  ‘Pain in the neck’ that happens because of the usage of devices at an awkward angle or pose. Interestingly this word, tech neck, takes a cue from the word ‘Text Neck.’

In the past, usually, students, teachers, and all such professionals were routine to lot of reading and writing. They were quickly susceptible to develop tech neck, because of holding the head down for a long time.

The smartphones and the tabs took over from the books, and the disorder rechristened as Tech neck.

What are the consequences?

The consequences of Tech neck are pain, stress, and immobility. The tremendous load on the neck results in:

  • mild to very severe pain in the neck.
  • Along with the pain, stiffness also results, and range of motion gets restricted.
  • Severe headache
  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Creaky shoulder joints
  • Pain in between the shoulder blades
  • Pain in the upper back
  • Neck spasms.
  • Drooped and weak chest muscles.

If these initial symptoms not attended to and remedial course of action not set in, it could lead to severe and drastic consequences. It is not that the above symptoms are mild, but the resultant situation can be worse.

If the strain on the neck continues, the intervertebral disk may slip or degenerate. And that is a severe injury to the cervical spine. It can very easily lead to pinched nerves and radiating pain along the shoulder and arms.

The bent head strains the neck severely. When the neck no longer holds the strain, the back bends forward automatically to ease the stress on the neck. In due course of time, the back retains the bent shape, and the whole upper body becomes bent and misshaped. This structural deformation can lead to further functional disorders. Balancing the body becomes difficult; walking gait loses its natural stance.

In short, the whole upper body would be in severe pain and discomfort.

Some tips that prevent tech neck.

Luckily, since the Tech neck is a lifestyle issue, the remedies are within our means and scope. One has to undo lots of unhealthy habits to set the course right.

The whole idea of prevention of tech neck revolves around the fact that the head should not tilt down so much. If it ever has to tilt 45 degrees and more, it should not be for long periods.

How can I prevent it?

Some straightforward but effective preventive measures can be:

  • To hold the smart devices at the eye level, whenever and where ever possible. Though this is not always viable when at home,  or in office, one can lift the phone a bit, to reduce the bending angle of the neck.
  • Listen to your body signals. When some discomfort or pain develops, do not ignore it. Try to resolve it in the best manner. If the neck muscle tires acknowledge it. Do not overstress the muscles.
  • Use a chair with headrest. From time to time, push back and let your headrest for a while.
  • Subscribe to position reminder apps. These apps will remind you to change the position of the head if it is in an unhealthy zone.
  • Stretch and loosen your neck and back muscles every day. Ensure that the strain does not stand on the muscles for too long.
  • If you have a computer desk job, get up once in an hour for five minutes and move around. Rotate neck in all directions, and do not let it go stiff.
  • Do aerobic exercises daily. Maintain the flexibility of the body and try to strengthen the back and neck muscles.
  • Unlike suggested generally, do not sit upright. Set your chair with a slight recline of about 25 degrees. Also, support your lower back with cushions. The position should be such that if you release your head, it should freefall at the backward. And not in the front.
  • Drink lots of water. Dehydrated body pains more and gets stiff fast.

A Tech neck is not a very serious issue unless ignored. Some simple care and precautions regularly can manage the situation very well. However, we do not have to stop using smart devices or the computer. We just have to use it sensibly and take necessary precautions. Pay more attention to body comfort and posture.

Exercise daily to maintain good posture and strengthen the muscles. Strong muscles help the skeletal structure to bear extra load and strain with ease.

A wee bit of caution and care can say Goodbye to Tech neck !!

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