On average, Americans spend nearly six hours a day with digital media. Usage of mobile devices increased considerably in 2017, from 0.3 hours a day in 2008 to 3.3 hours a day. As a result, a new phenomenon has become a focal point in the physical therapy community and a priority for technological development.
Nearly all smartphone owners, tablet dwellers, and computer whizzes can relate to the discomfort of your neck feeling achy and stiff. Physical therapists have coined this condition “technology neck,” or tech neck for short.
Tech neck is caused by spending long periods with your head extended far forward, generally over a laptop or mobile device. Your head is heavy, and the longer you look down, the harder your muscles have to work to support it, which causes strain over time. Did you know that holding your head at a 45-degree angle requires your muscles to do the same amount of work as lifting a 50-pound sandbag? This increases to 60 pounds at 60 degrees.
Thankfully, tech neck is far from a life sentence. In fact, there are a variety of ways you can prevent or relieve the symptoms of tech neck every day.
Having an office environment that promotes good posture can also help to alleviate the symptoms of tech neck. Lucky for you, BoxAV makes it simple to access much of what you need to set up a supportive home office in one single box.
Addressing Tech Neck in Daily Life
If you were to look at the X-ray of someone with tech neck, you’d notice they have little to no curvature in their neck where others with proper posture do. Some other indicators of this condition are neck spasms, headaches, pain between the shoulder blades, tingling or numbness in the thumbs, and blurry vision.
In most cases, tech neck can be prevented with cervical traction devices, a mindful technology arrangement, and daily due diligence. Try combining these routine adjustments with a supportive office and frequent use of a cervical traction device to start eliminating tech neck from your life.
First, be sure to set reminders on your phone, computer, or tablet for every 15 to 20 minutes. This will help you track time spent using your device. It will also help you remember to take breaks and stretch out the tension when putting the device away isn’t an option. Pay attention to your body and know when your pain points are close to their limits to avoid having a case of tech neck evolve into something more serious, like cervical osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease.
Frequent stretching can help keep muscles limber and improve mobility. It will also improve your muscles’ ability to hold uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time.
You should always opt for a chair with a head rest so that your head is supported while using any device. This takes the strain off of your neck and will keep achiness and stiffness in check. Place devices at eye level wherever possible using your arms or an adjustable desk. Understandably, this approach is often too conspicuous for public spaces, but in the home office setting, it is generally very doable.
Physical therapists recommend using eye drops and reading glasses while using your devices so that you don’t feel the urge to place your face closer to the screen to get a better view.
Ignoring tech neck is never a good idea. The more frequently your muscles tighten, the more pressure they put on your spine, which results in discs wearing out faster and can even cause them to bulge or rupture. Ruptured discs may pinch nerves and cause weakness, numbness, or chronic pain.
Make time for exercise each day and drink lots of water to keep your muscles lubricated and flexible. It’s hard to find time for a workout every day, but setting aside thirty minutes a few times a week is a worthy investment of your time. Proper hydration works to reduce aches and pains and overall susceptibility to ailments like tech neck. Aim to drink eight glasses a day as recommended by most physicians.
How BoxAV Can Help
Technology has become an essential component of our working and personal lives. Even our children now rely heavily on technology for their education, and the pandemic only amplified this need. It is more important than ever to learn the importance of responsible technology use and to find out how you can model your technology use around safe practices.
Preventative measures are critical, but they are only part of the equation. Having a setup that promotes healing and good posture is becoming fundamental to our daily habits. The right monitor paired with a quality headset and mindfully designed desk can make all the difference for preventing incidences of tech neck in the long term.
At BoxAV, all of our products are designed to fit your workspace and the unique ways you engage with technology. With options such as the curved monitor that comes with our Executive Office in a Box or the sit/stand desk in our Student Office in a Box, we’ve got a safe, comfortable solution for just about everyone. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you eliminate the dreaded tech neck from your life.