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Tech Neck and the 60-Pound Head

By Donna Stark

Do you catch yourself rubbing your neck and shoulders throughout the day? Do your stiff muscles and nagging headache frustrate you beyond belief? You aren't aware of any injury, you are intentional with your posture, and you bought the right kind of pillows, yet the pain is still there. Every single day. So what gives? What else could it be? Neck and shoulder pain are common complaints for so many people. The pain can range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating, but the most aggravating aspect of this type of pain is that the cause can be difficult to pinpoint. 

Tech Neck is a Real Thing

What used to be called "text neck" has now been elevated to being called "tech neck," due to all of the different types of technological devices that are in our hands every single day. Have you ever considered that your electronic devices might be the cause of your neck and shoulder pain? Are you aware of the position that your head is in every time you use one of those devices? And let's be honest, we aren't just on them for a minute here and a minute there. We are on these devices for hours.

Extended Use Can Cause Strain

So how does the position of your head affect the level of pain you feel in your neck when you are looking at things on your phone? Well, it has to do with the angle it's in. When your head is straight, or in what is called a neutral position, there is relatively little stress on the neck. But as the head moves forward and down (the position we use to look at our devices), the stress on the neck and spine increases exponentially, so much that it's as if the weight of your head has increased from 10 pounds to 60! That's a lot of strain.  

Tips to Relieve Pain

That leaves us with the million dollar question ... with the exception of completely disconnecting yourself from your devices, what can you do to protect your neck and relieve the pain? Take a look at the following suggestions.

  • Pay attention to posture
  • Lift your phone up to eye level
  • Take breaks if using your devices for extended amounts of time
  • Stretch your neck and shoulders
  • Incorporate exercises that will strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles into your fitness routine
  • Set time limits and reminders
  • Ensure that your monitor, chair, and desk are at the appropriate heights to avoid forward head posture

Smart Behaviors With Our Smart Devices

There's no question that we love our electronic devices and phones. After all, there is no easier way to send pictures of the grandkids to your friends and family. Just be sure to pay attention to the position of your head when you use them and if you start feeling pain, take that break!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Citrus Heights, Calif.

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