If you own a smartphone, laptop or tablet, there’s a good chance that you’ve fallen victim to “tech neck”. It's something we see everywhere - whilst walking down the highstreet, commuting on the train and even whilst we’re on zoom calls. So what is “tech neck” exactly? The term refers to the act of over extending our neck muscles as we look down at our mobiles to scroll through social media, or lean over our laptops. And let's face it, we’ve all been there. In fact, last year, pre-lockdown, we spent a daily average of five hours and 53 minutes on digital media.
With rising levels of employees working from home as a result of Covid-19, many of us have found ourselves working from “DIY” workstations which fail to provide our neck and spines with the support they really need. The bad news? It is an issue that is only getting worse.
How does “tech neck” affect us?
The cervical spine (technical term for the neck) is made up of multiple, flexible vertebrae which allow us to move our heads up, down and side to side. And although the neck is one of the most flexible parts of our bodies, it is also extremely vulnerable to damage, pains and strains. A frequent source of cervical spine damage? You guessed it - tech neck.
As we continue to lean over our electronic devices, our posture gradually becomes worse. The muscles of our upper backs are overstretched and the muscles in the front of our bodies become weak. This imbalance causes our necks to inch forward - making our heads feel ten times heavier. Did you know that by stretching your neck just 45 degrees, your neck muscles are doing the work of lifting a 49lb bag of potatoes (Dr. K. Daniel. Riew). Yep, it’s true!
Overstretching of the cervical spine not only causes structural problems in the back and neck but sitting in a hunched posture can also greatly impact the way that we breathe. Allow us to explain. Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture can cause the muscles around the chest to tighten. That tightening limits the ability of the rib cage to expand and causes people to take more rapid, shallow breaths.
In addition to musculoskeletal strains, stiffness and general wear and tear. Tech neck can also result in a number of long-term health complications such as tension headaches - caused by excess pressure pressure from over extended back and neck muscles. Herniated disks can also be a major issue for those suffering from tech neck as your muscles have to strain to hold up your head. When your neck muscles tighten, it adds more pressure on your discs, making them wear out more quickly.
What can we do to avoid “Tech Neck?”
Raise our screens when working from home.
To prevent our neck and shoulders from dropping forward, we should aim to raise our screens and laptops, so that they are as close to our eye level as possible. This can easily be achieved by stacking your laptop or computer on top of a holder - or using an additional monitor which is adjustable.
Move around, and set break reminders.
When working from home, limiting the amount of time you spend in one position e.g at your desk can work wonders for not only your physical health but your mental health too. Where you can, why not try working in different positions - standing breaks can be great for this. Or simply set some timers to remind yourself to take a break and stretch it out.
Look Ahead (Literally)
Rather than tilting your head down so you can read your phone, why not try raising your device to your eye level. If you are suffering from tech neck, this is a great habit to form as it will stop you from repetitively dropping your head and causing muscle strain.
Correct your Posture as you Sleep
Sleeping with a pillow which helps to align your Spine is a great way to counteract poor posture which has occurred throughout the day. For example, our EasySleeper memory foam pillow has been designed with a unique concave dip in the centre which helps to support the neck. This dip allows the cervical spine to lie inline with the centre of our bodies which helps to avoid overextension of the neck muscles as we sleep. It’s super soft memory foam sponge also works to support the natural curve of your neck. Simply lie back and let the EasySleeper work its magic.
If like us, you’ve found yourself struggling with neck pain as a result of Tech Neck whilst working from home, why not try out our Easy Sleeper for yourself.