Spend A Lot Of Time On Your Phone? Here's How To Get Rid Of The Dreaded Tech Neck

Getting your weekly screen time report can be a shocking slap of reality. "I spent how much of this precious day with my eyes glued to blue light?" Breaking your addiction to a social media app is not an easy feat. And sometimes your job requires email after email or back-to-back exhausting Zoom calls. In this day and age, staring at your screen is almost impossible to avoid. Because of this, it's also hard to avoid tech neck.

Pain management specialist Dr. Robert Bolash explained to Cleveland Clinic that "Neck muscles, in their proper position, are designed to support the weight of your head, which is about 10 to 12 pounds ... looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck."

Tech neck refers to the negative effects that this misplaced weight causes. Chiropractic doctor Stevan Knauf told Everyday Health that symptoms of tech neck include headaches, upper back tension, jaw pain, numbing sensations in the hands, and shoulder pain.

How to prevent tech neck

Tech neck can lead to more than temporary pain and tension. Cervical spine surgeon Dr. K. Daniel Riew told Health Matters that, in severe cases, it can even lead to pinched nerves and ruptured spinal discs. If your screen time issue lies in your social media scrolling, take steps to challenge this easy but inessential habit. Set a time limit in your settings for certain apps, turn off notifications, and figure out alternative activities for the moments of boredom or discomfort where you'd usually reach for your phone. 

And while you can prevent these moments of neck craning, some are inescapable. Post-pandemic, more work than ever is centered on digital platforms. If you are one of the many people sitting, stooping your neck all day to get a good look at your computer, your chances of avoiding tech neck are not hopeless. Chiropractic doctor Stacie J. Stephenson told Everyday Health that you can avoid tech neck by ensuring your head sits over your spine. To do this while getting your work done, rest your computer on a surface that positions it at eye level rather than below you.

How to treat tech neck if you already have it

If you are reading this and think you already have tech neck, don't worry. Your case is not hopeless. There are remedies for this aggravating ailment. Dr. Riew explained to Health Matters that you can lessen this pain by getting up from your sitting position every 15-30 minutes. He said, "That'll get blood circulating, and it will get your neck in a different position." 

In addition to this casual, frequent movement, Riew mentioned that you should include physical exercise in your routine. Riew noted, "When you do aerobic exercise, it sends oxygenated blood to those tired muscles and washes away the chemicals that cause inflammation and pain."

Not only can aerobic movement improve your pain, but certain targeted exercises can improve your muscle tension and posture. In conversation with Elle, personal trainer Rothie Banzuelo suggested doing reps of baby cobra, bird dog, and upward-facing dog. According to Banzuelo, "These exercises will stretch the overactive and tight muscles, and train the body to keep the head back in correct alignment."