Tech Neck - How Today's Tech is Affecting Your Health.
In today's digital world, our smartphones are used for just about everything. It's not unusual to spend hours on social media, texting or watching You tube on your phone or tablet. You see it at the everywhere, at work, on break, on the subway or late at night in bed.
All that screen time affects your health in more than just one way. A new condition called tech neck is a growing concern among healthcare professionals. All that time spent on digital devices is bad for your eyes, your posture, your heart, and your mood.
Do you repeatedly tuck your head down over your chin and hunch your shoulders while sending text messages or using your cellphone? You're a good candidate for tech neck.
Chronically having your neck in a forward, downward position results in headaches, neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, soreness and more.
What is tech neck?
Neck pain and tension is a common complaint among people who spend long hours sitting at a desk or working on a computer. But tech neck is also impacting high teens, college students, and even our seniors.
Tech neck, also called text neck, occurs from spending prolonged periods with your head and neck extended too far forward over your body. On X-rays, people with tech neck have little or no curve in the neck.
On average, Americans spend nearly six hours a day with digital media, and mobile use increased from .3 hours per day in 2008 to 3.3 hours a day in 2017. Doctors say tech neck is a growing problem among teenagers. They average nine hours per day in front of screens and report higher rates of depression and loneliness.
All that texting and scrolling takes a toll. Muscles in the back of your neck contract to hold up your head, which weighs 10-12 pounds in neutral position. The more you look down, the harder those muscles have to work to support your head. At a 45-degree angle, your neck muscles are doing the work equivalent to lifting a 50-pound bag of potatoes. At 60 degrees, that increases to 60 pounds.
The excessive stress put on the neck can cause muscles to get overly tired, tense and sore. Other symptoms of tech neck include:
Neck pain or spasms
Pain between your shoulder blades
Tingling or numb thumbs
Blurry vision from too much screen time/glare
Some Tips to counteract tech neck
There are ways to correctly and safely align the body while using mobile phones, computers, and tablets. Changing bad habits, limiting screen time, and trading scrolling for regular exercise is one of the best prescriptions.
Hold your device at eye level Look down with your eyes and not your head Take a three-minute break for every 15 to 20 minutes spent on your device
Use a phone or tablet holder Rest your eyes, use lubricating eye drops and reading glasses so you aren't straining to see or hunching over Be mindful of your posture when using digital devices.
Exercise and physical therapy can help
Whether you are suffering from tech neck or chronic pain, physical therapy, and regular exercise can help prevent tech neck – or counteract painful symptoms. Broadway Physical Therapy treats a variety of conditions that cause neck pain.
Treatment options vary depending on your official diagnosis. The goal is to get to the root cause of your neck pain based on your symptoms and personal goals. Your physician or physical therapist can help you determine the best treatment options and show you lifestyle changes and exercises to do at home.
Elevating your heart rate, even sweating a little, does wonders to keep your neck and back healthy. It sends oxygenated blood to tired muscles, helps lubricate joints and discs, and flushes out chemicals that cause inflammation and pain. It also helps ease the tension in the back of the neck.
Mobile devices aren't going away. If anything, they are going to continue to change the way we work, study and connect with others. The biggest problem with tech neck is not the symptoms, but your daily behaviors. You have to address your posture, your time spent on digital devices, and the mechanics and bad habits that are causing the problem.
Physical therapy can help alleviate symptoms as well as uncover the root of the problem and help correct it. With a good plan of care and being mindful of how much time you spend staring at a screen, you can make sure technology isn't harming your health. Contact Broadway Physical Therapy to discuss your neck pain and learn how to live a healthy life free from pain, dysfunction and cellphone interference!
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