The average American spends around 3 hours a day on their mobile phone. So it’s no surprise that the condition known as “tech neck” is on the rise. Tech neck (also called “text neck”) refers to the aches and pains that come with craning your neck to look at your phone screen. And yes, it’s a very real phenomenon that’s increasing each year. Combined with using tablets, laptops, and watching TV, the uptick in mobile phone use is a recipe for a very achey spine.
In fact, researchers conducted a study to see if prolonged phone usage is really the cause of tech neck complaints. The study first measured how long university students used their phones. Then, the students rated any neck or spine pain. The results concluded that mobile phone use was directly linked to the severity of neck pain. The researchers also found that age plays a role in tech neck pain; the older you get, the more pain you’ll feel.
But with so many people relying on their mobile phones more than ever, is tech neck even preventable? The good news is you can prevent tech neck with a few simple lifestyle changes. (And no, you don’t have to throw away your phone.) If you already suffer from neck pain, these treatments may help relieve stiffness and soreness, too.
Change your screen habits to prevent tech neck
The best way to prevent tech neck is to decrease the amount of time you spend on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Try taking more breaks during prolonged tech usage. If you find it hard to look away from the screen, set timers or schedule breaks in your calendar to remind you to get up and stretch every 15-30 minutes.
If spending less time on your phone just isn’t in the cards, there’s still hope! You can prevent tech neck by improving your posture while using your device. Instead of hunching over and looking down at the phone, make these simple posture adjustments:
- Straighten your spine by rolling your shoulders back. Try to have a neutral, relaxed spine, without any artificial arching or bending. Trying to “sit up straight” can actually put more strain on your back and neck!
- While holding the phone, tuck your elbows closer to your sides.
- Bring the phone eye-level. This prevents you from craning your neck up or down while you scroll, watch, and text.
Stretch for better posture
Stretching is important for overall health and wellness. So it’s no surprise that you can relieve tech neck—and actually prevent it—with some simple stretches you can do at home. Strengthening the muscles that support your spine will help improve your posture over time, too! Yoga poses like cobra, upward dog, and cat/cow are excellent for your spine and posture. Even just 5 minutes a day can make a world of difference in your posture. You can also book a stretching session with a professional Soothe therapist to target your problem areas.
Exercise is also helpful in preventing tech neck (seriously, what CAN’T exercise do). When iit comes to your neck and back, a little goes a long way. Focus on workouts that strengthen your back muscles, like these 5 yoga-inspired exercises. Always warm up before intense workouts. Long-distance running, HIIT, or weight-lifting can be hard on your back. Don’t forget to take extra care with your form to maintain a healthy spine.
Adjust your home office setup
If your kitchen table is doubling as your home office right now, chances are it’s not the most ergonomic setup. With more of us working from home, makeshift desks could be causing more stress than you think. If your computer is too high or too low, you might be feeling the pain in your neck and back. Here are a few ways to make working from home a pain-free experience:
- Adjust the height of your computer monitor. If you find you’re looking down or craning your neck to see your screen, it’s time for an adjustment. You can invest in an inexpensive laptop stand to add height. If your screen is too high, an adjustable chair or a lower worktable is the right way to go.
- Try a standing desk. Standing desks are a great way to relieve the stiffness of sitting all day. If you’re able to splurge, electric standing desks are available for $200-500. If that’s not in your budget, tabletop versions are more affordable.
- Get a better chair. Surprise–your kitchen chair is not made for all-day support. A proper office chair that offers both lumbar and neck support is key to eliminating tech pain. If you’re working in an office, ask your manager if there are more ergonomic options available.
Schedule regular massages to target tech neck pain
Massage is excellent for relieving the most common symptoms of tech neck: stiffness, headaches, and painful spasms. A Swedish massage melts away tension after a long day, easing strain from prolonged tech use. The benefits of massage go beyond relaxation, too. Looking at screens at night is also a recipe for poor sleep. Regular massages have the added benefit of improving sleep and helping you fall asleep faster. Schedule a massage in the safety and comfort of your own home with Soothe. A certified massage therapist targets your neck, shoulders, and upper back to relieve tech-related tension.