Tech Neck is Real and Here's What You Need To Know

'What the heck is tech neck?' I hear you say. Well, funny you should ask because I asked exactly the same question the other day. While lamenting my prominent turkey gobble/double chin thing I've got going on, a lovely mum at a playgroup said, "Oh that's tech neck," as if I should know exactly what she meant. Spoiler: I had no clue.

I've since done a little research and realised that this is actually a thing although it apparently is nothing to do with my double chin issue - that's on me. Tech neck simply refers to the stress and injury of muscles caused by repeatedly staring down at phones and tablets. It results in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness and it is a problem that’s getting worse.

In August 2018 a report entitled 'A decade of Digital Dependency' was published and it discovered that on average we are spending almost 3.5 hours a day online with 1 in 5 adults spending a whopping 40 hours online a week (why are you looking at me?). Almost half of all adults check their phone within five minutes of waking up and that figure rises to 65% for the under-35s.

There's no denying it, due to the rise of mobile devices, we're using our muscles in ways that we weren't necessarily designed to or have previously done. The resulting symptoms can seem easy to dismiss at first: stiffness or pain in your neck, tension in your shoulders or a general ache in your body. The problem is, without recognising possible tech neck and treating the initial symptoms it can become tricky to get rid of. In the very worst case scenarios, untreated 'tech neck' can lead to loss of strength in your fingers and hands. I know right?

So key symptoms to look out for are:

  1. Neck Pain - pain that is regular and consistent. Some stiffness and soreness that dissipates is fairly normal but any pain should be checked out.

  2. Numbness and tension in your hands - This is not a good sign and could suggest that 'tech neck' is getting to a point that's hard to deal with.

  3. Headaches and migraines - We all get headaches and migraines but leaning forward all the time with your chin towards your chest can add an extra 60 pounds for your body to support. This can lead to regular headaches.

  4. Poor Posture - Looking down at your phone all the time will have an effect on your posture and some experts suggest that it can lead to a shortening of the muscles and put your spine in a vulnerable position.

So, how to avoid it?

  1. Raise your screen higher. Hold your phone or tablet up close to eye level to avoid sloping your head forward or bending your neck down. ...

  2. Take breaks often. ...

  3. Sit in a chair with a headrest. ...

  4. Strengthen and stretch your muscles. ...

  5. Use pain as a warning sign.

Go forth and avoid tech neck!