“Tech Neck” – What You Need to Know
By: Melissa A. Kay, Staff Writer
With innovation comes invention. But there is usually a price we pay for the perks of today’s incredible high-tech wonders, and it doesn’t always come out of your wallet or bank account. While the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets offer us advancements that make life so much easier and far more entertaining, the use of devices like smartphones, tablets, readers, and laptops can result in pains and strains.
“Tech neck” is a relatively new medical concept and concern, thanks to the rampant use of our everyday use (more specifically, misuse) of these go-to gadgets. The repetitive stress put on the neck and upper back areas are significant, especially when we repeatedly strain our necks to scroll, swipe, text, and type. Day in and day out, many of us are near-glued to these devices – for work, personal communication, or just for fun. We don’t even realize the stress we are putting on our upper bodies until muscle spasms, soreness, and stiffness, aches and pains, and even worse repercussions set in and often stay around for some time.
According to Clinical Pain Advisor, “Over time, (use) can lead to a variety of health issues including nerve impingement and disk injury.” Habitual and hard-to-resist, even with pain, we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from these devices, and sometimes we just don’t have the choice.
Rather than quit our use of smartphones, tablets, readers, and laptops cold turkey, using them properly can be the trick to avoiding and/or alleviating and eliminating tech neck. Follow these two life-changing tips and you will dodge the dreadful modern misery and still reap the rewards of using your can’t-live-without-them devices regularly.
Placement is Paramount
Notice how you are always looking down towards your device? We normally hold them low by our mid-sections or laps, meaning our necks are tilted downwards in order to view. This may be a comfortable way to stand or sit, even for extended periods of time, but the strain will start to build and soon the stress will reveal itself in a dull discomfort. The longer we look down, the more strain we put upon ourselves. Soon, tech neck rears its ugly head, and we’re aimed towards agony, even ailments.
To circumvent the situation, raise your smartphone, reader, or tablet to eye level. It may take some getting used to and a pick-up in posture, but soon you will notice a positive change in how your neck and upper back feel. As for laptop use, sit at a desk or table that gives you a well-aligned view that does not cause you to slope to see. A decent chair is a good investment too. Not that most of us need to, but with proper placement, we can use our devices longer without worrying about what’s to come.
Give Yourself a Break
Even though a better viewing angle can resolve the stress we put on our bodies and we can go longer without a negative impact, it is still important to give it a rest every now and then. Although we may strive to sit upright and promise to elevate rather than droop, fatigue is bound to set in and soon we could be back to slumping, allowing tech neck to sneak back and wreak havoc.
Breaks will give you the favor of getting up and giving your neck and upper back some rest and a recharge. When you remove yourself from the same position you may have been in for hours, you can get back to work or whatever you had been doing with a fresh focus on your placement, positioning, and posture. Not to mention, a step away from the screen will benefit your eyes and mental clarity. If you just can’t pull yourself away willingly or are afraid you’ll simply forget to take a break, remember the handy timers on your various devices that you can pre-set to alert you to take a time out and pick up where you left off after standing up and stretching sporadically.
Say goodbye to tech neck for good – proactive prevention is the key to being pain free!
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