In a “Screen Slump?” Be Forewarned – Here’s How “Tech Neck” Affects Your Spinal Health
Screen Slump and Tech Neck
By: Brian Acton
You probably don’t think about it regularly, but you see people putting their spinal health at risk on a regular basis – and no, they’re not skateboarding or dodging through traffic.
Perhaps they’re slouched in their cubicle at work, squinting at their computer monitor. Maybe they’re hunched over their cell phone, tapping away at a game and oblivious to the outside world. Or they’re crammed into a tiny airplane seat, at work on their laptop.
No matter the scenario, habitually hunching over your phone , tablet, or computer monitor – known as “screen slump” – can cause major neck and back problems.
It’s fairly well known that staring at screens can strain eyesight, and keyboard users can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, but an increasing amount of back and neck problems among young people has revealed another condition caused by our technology addiction, and it ‘s known as “tech neck.”
A 2014 study indicated that looking down at your smartphone at a 60° angle can put 60 pounds of pressure on your neck. That’s six times the weight your neck holds when you’re standing upright. This pressure puts an abnormal amount of stress on the spine, and can cause neck pain, back pain, and potentially slipped or herniated disks.
According to the British Chiropractic Association, 45% of 16-24 year olds suffer from back pain as a result. The body just wasn’t meant to crane the neck forward and round the shoulders – another similar posture position that is seen in cubicles across America.
Now people are not likely to give up their smartphones and devices to increase their spinal health. Luckily, there are ways to use your computers and mobile devices without leaving yourself open to injury.
How to Fight Tech Neck
By reading this article, you’ve already taken the first step – an awareness of how your behavior can affect your spinal health!
When you do use technology, make sure to practice good posture. Craning your neck towards your monitor at work is a great way to develop neck problems. Instead, sit straight in your chair – if you’re having trouble reading a document, zoom in on the monitor, not with your head.
If you’re looking into your smartphone or tablet, hold the device away from you, preferably level with your face. That way, you aren’t hunching over your screen.
You can also use a tablet holder or stand when you have place to put down your device. If you’re watching a video on your couch, stand your tablet up on a level surface nearby, rather than hunching over with the tablet in your lap. The same concept applies to your monitor – try and keep it at eye level and directly in front of you so you don’t have to crane or turn your neck.
Finally, using best practices when it comes to your spinal health will go a long way in preventing injury. Stretching your neck and back will help keep you limber, as will massages. If you start feeling pain, limit your time on devices and go see a chiropractor or physical therapist for advice that’s specific to your spine.
While we don’t foresee the general public giving up technology anytime soon, the future of our collective spinal health doesn’t need to be bleak. With good discipline, we can train ourselves to use technology without putting our necks and backs at risk.
Of course, if you want to leave your device at home next time you go out – you may just be doing yourself a small favor.