How to Help Prevent Your Smartphone Use from Causing Tech Neck

By Brian Acton

In modern society, smartphones are a nearly ubiquitous source of information and entertainment. Everywhere you go, you see people with their heads bent forward, faces pointed at the phone in their hands. However, too much looking down at your phone can have a serious impact on your spinal health.

Your neck is meant to support the weight of your head, which comes in at around 10 – 12 pounds. Looking down at your phone at a 60° angle places 60 pounds of pressure on your neck, five or six times the normal amount of pressure it withstands when you’re standing or sitting up straight. This can lead to an abnormal straightening of the neck, a position often referred to as “tech neck” or “text neck.” Over time this additional pressure can lead to neck pain, back pain, herniated discs, and other spinal problems.

You don’t have to give up using your smartphone, but you should take steps to use it in a way that doesn’t contribute to tech neck. Here’s how.

  1. Reduce Smartphone Usage

One of the simplest recommendations to reduce the effects of staring at your phone is to use your phone less. There are several ways to reduce phone usage:

  • Designate a phone-free zone or phone-free time of day. You could stop using your phone when you get home from work in the evening or take a daily afternoon break from phone use.
  • Use an app that limits phone usage. There are many apps available, with varying degrees of severity ranging from gentle reminders and imposing time limits on certain apps to locking your phone down after a certain amount of usage.
  • Remove particularly addictive apps from your phone to limit your more habitual usage.
  • Use your smartphone in short bursts instead of in long sessions.

     2. Keep Screens at Eye Level

The main issue with smartphones is that we spend so much time looking down at them. You can combat this by keeping screens at eye level while sitting or standing up straight, maintaining proper posture. This eliminates the need to bend your neck to look at your phone. There are several ways to do this:

  • When sitting or standing, raise your phone up to eye level with the screen directly in front of you. While this may feel awkward at first, doing it habitually will make it seem second nature.
  • If your device must be below your natural line of vision, look down with your eyes rather than your neck.
  • Use a stand or support to place your phone on a flat surface at eye level when watching videos or reading.
  • When lying in bed, hold your phone above your head at eye level - the risk of dropping it on your face is a small price to pay for better spinal health.

     3. Stretch and Exercise

You should stretch and exercise your neck muscles a few times a day to keep your muscles limber and your neck flexible. Check out this video to get started.

  1. Use Products that Promote Cervical Alignment

You can also make use of products that promote proper spinal alignment and help maintain the natural curvature of the neck. Making use of pillows and other aids can help you keep your spine healthy and make sure it’s aligned, even when you aren’t using your cell phone. Here are two of our favorite products for promoting proper neck posture:

  • The Apex Cervical Orthosis Premium with Heat counteracts the negative affects of leaning your head forward, helping relieve headaches and neck pain associated with tech neck. It places the user’s head in the position that helps reestablish proper spinal curvature and helps stretch the chest and neck muscles. The MicroBeads® Moist Heat Pack provides heat therapy to the affected area. Studies indicate increasing the temperature of the tissue to be stretched improves elasticity of muscles and ligaments, extending range of motion. [1] [2]
  • Core Products cervical pillows help you maintain proper cervical alignment while you sleep, a perfect time to help your body to recover from activities throughout the day.
Sources:

https://www.coreproducts.com/blogs/news/in-a-screen-slump-be-forewarned-heres-how-tech-neck-affects-your-spinal-health/

1Jerrold Scott Petrofsky, Michael Laymon, Haneul Lee
Med Sci Monit. 2013; 19: 661–667. Published online 2013 Aug 12. doi: 10. 12659/MSM.889145

2LaBan, M., “Collagen Tissue: Implications of its Response to Stress in Vitro”, Archives of Physical medicine and Rehabilitation, 1962

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