Yes, it’s a thing

The term “tech neck” has been around for about 8 years. However, it really caught on in late 2014 when one of the first rigorous evaluations of the condition was published by New York spine surgeon, Kenneth Hansraj.

You might remember Nintendo thumb, Blakberry thumb and Wii elbow. These are all similar terms used to define body strain due to technology. For more on the evolution of tech-induced pain, check out this article by Kerry Maxwell of macmillandictionary.com.

What is it?

Tech neck is caused by the neck being flexed or bent forward for a long period of time, like when we are scrolling through our social media or sending an email or text message. “The condition occurs because the joints and tissue in the neck are not naturally built to withstand being flexed for longer periods, so peering down at a screen puts them under stress which causes pain and irritation when the neck returns to its normal position” (macmillandictionary.com).

Our heads weigh a lot-about 10 to 11 pounds. Our shoulders are built to withstand that weight. However, when we flex our head, that 10 pounds becomes more like 15 to 20. That’s a lot of weight for our shoulders meant to carry half of that. It’s similar to carrying a weight at arm’s length rather than closer to the body.

What can you do?

Being aware is a great first step. Many people don’t realize the strain they cause their necks simply from emailing. The next step is to catch yourself in the act. There are several apps that can help you remember to straighten up. Check out Chiropractic Economics and Makeusof.com for some ideas.

Here are some other simple strategies to help your spine, brought to you by fatherly.com:

  1. Hold your phone just below eye-level. Use your index finger to text, not your thumbs.
  2. When using technology, sit up straight with your head in a neutral position (ears over your shoulders) with good posture and your feet planted flat on the ground.
  3. Stand up every 20 minutes and roll your shoulders back. Better yet, walk around.
  4. Consider raising your computer to eye level.

Also, think about implementing exercises into your program to up your game. Visit doyouyoga.com for some good ones. As with any new exercise regiment, contact your medical practitioner and discuss with him/her first.

And, one last tid bit for you all. Check out this awesome video by CDI for a closer look at what tech neck is all about.

Until next time!
Rachel Kristyniak, Licensed Acupuncturist
Picture source

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