Tech neck – I really just created that term! I am sure you know what I mean – hours of work on our computers and smart phones can lead to an unhappy spine and a crinky neck.
In today’s world of technology, instant email and social media, we need to be mindful of our bodies while our minds are whirring along each day.
This image shows us the ugly truth of what happens to our spines with prolonged poor posture. We will experience stiffness and pain in our necks and shoulders as a result. Daily stretches are a great way to avoid tech neck and can easily be performed at your desk each day. Print the image below and keep it near your desk!
Here are a few other tips that will help you minimize the risk of overuse while working:
- Go wireless and go big! Consider a wireless mouse and keyboard if you do not have one already. This will greatly reduce the strain on your hands and wrists. If you use a laptop regularly, think about getting a separate monitor so you can avoid neck pain associated with bad posture. You can also set your display to a bigger font (simply go to settings and look for the Zoom tab). This will reduce eye strain and fatigue as well as help you to avoid craning your neck to see your screen,
- Invest in an ergonomic keyboard. Again, this will ease hand and wrist strain if you are working at a workstation all day. Make sure you get a proper set up – have yourself fitted for the keyboard to ensure it is right for you.
- Get moving! This is so important!! When working we often forget to get up and move – I am guilty of this myself. Take a break at least once an hour and take a brisk 5 minute walk. Your body will thank you!
The technology of smart phones increases our risk of injury even more. There are several injuries and dysfunctional postures that can occur with overuse of our phones.
- Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the flexor tendon. This can happen with prolonged holding of a cell phone
- Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, affects the extensor tendon and can result in fatigue and overuse. This is also a result of holding a cell phone for long periods.
- “Uptight” shoulders results from holding the cell phone between your ear and neck when talking. Our shoulders will become fatigued and pinched with this posture.
- Anterior shoulder strain occurs when the shoulder joints are strained for holding the cell phone in front of our bodies for long periods of time. The upper arms and shoulders can become fatigued and painful with overuse. We can also develop strains and injuries in the rotator cuff muscles with this posture.
- Rounded shoulders, upper back and forward head strain can all occur when we are looking down at our cell phones. When we are looking down, our thoracic spine is hyperextended, putting strain on our necks and upper back. This can also lead to headaches.
- Rounded lower back happens in this posture as well. Our pelvis is in an excessive state of posterior tilt which collapses the entire trunk forward and strains the low back muscles.
- Finally, we have texting thumb! I know it exists, I have experienced it! Irritation, inflammation and injury can occur in the tendons of the thumb due to repetitive overuse.
So what can we do about all of this? How can we improve our posture while using our phones as well?
First and foremost, be mindful. As with our posture when we are sitting at our desk on the computer, we often lose track of what our body is doing as the day drags on. When using your phone, adjust your posture to take the pressure off of your neck, shoulders and low back. Get a bluetooth headset to reduce strain when talking on your phone.
Better posture leads to better health. Learn more about other postural adjustments for daily life in this printable – click the link to download – Four Steps to Better Posture
Be well and avoid tech neck!