By Brian Acton
Modern technology users spend a lot of time staring at screens - desktop computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets and more. But our bodies aren’t naturally equipped to hunch over monitors or constantly look down at screens, and it could be doing damage to our spines, neck, and back.
Looking down at your smartphone at a 60° angle can put 60 pounds of pressure on your neck, which is six times the weight your neck holds when you’re standing up straight. This additional pressure can lead to neck pain, back pain, and even herniated disks.
Luckily, there are ways to still use modern technology while avoiding the spinal issues caused by staring at screens. Here are some tips.
- Reduce Screen Time
One of the most obvious recommendations for reducing the harmful effects of looking at screens is to reduce that screen time altogether. For your spine (and overall health), you should be paying attention to how long you spend sitting at a computer or looking at your smartphone. You could resolve to spend less time at home looking at screens, use apps that monitor screen time and/or block screen use after a certain threshold, or strive to take regular breaks.
- Use Proper Posture
When looking at a screen, your natural inclination may be to hunch toward it. But practicing proper posture can help you reduce the effects of tech neck.
- When sitting at a computer, don’t crane your neck toward your monitor - instead, sit up straight in your chair with your feet planted flat on the floor in front of you. If you’re having trouble seeing the screen, try zooming in rather than leaning forward.
- Don’t slump or look down toward your smartphone, tablet, or other handheld devices. Hold the device in front of you, level with your face.
- Place Your Screen in the Right Place
Placing screens the proper distance and level from your face will keep you from having to look down or crane forward.
- Make sure your computer monitor isn’t sitting too low in your field of vision and forcing you to look down to read. If you must, adjust the level of the monitor or sit it on top of something so you’re looking forward.
- If you’re watching a video on your mobile device, stand it up on a level surface nearby and look forward, rather than hunching over the tablet or smartphone in your lap.
- Stretch and Strengthen Muscles
Stretching and strengthening your neck, chest, and upper back will help your body support your head and reduce strain on your spine. Strengthening exercises and stretches can help keep the upper portion of your body in great shape.