A lot of people hold their tech devices, like cell phones, tablets and e-readers, at chest or waist level, not eye level. This causes you to look down at your device by bending your neck and rounding your shoulders forward, both of which are terrible for your posture. It places your cervical spine in a tenuous position.
Over long periods of time, maintaining this head-forward posture can lead to muscle strain, disc injury, nerve impingement and arthritic changes of the neck—and the potential for developing ongoing neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and pain radiating down the arms.
Almost all the time we spend looking at any screen has the potential for damaging the neck. So, what can you do to protect your neck? Turn away from the screen! No, really. It's recommended you take short breaks from your screen time to get up, stretch your legs, and give your eyes a breather anyway. This is a good opportunity for you to also take note of your posture and pain levels.
5 easy tips to prevent tech neck
To avoid developing degenerative neck changes due to posture, here are 5 easy steps you can start with today.
- Set time limits.
Limit the amount of time and frequency that you use your device. If you have to use it for an extended period of time, take breaks. Develop a habit of taking a three-minute break for every 15-20 minutes you use your device. Change your posture and move around.
- Set an automatic reminder.
You can use an automatic alarm on your device to remind you to take a short brake. If you have a wearable device like and iWatch, you can use it to remind you to take a time out every 15 tot 20 minutes.
- Use a tablet/phone holder.
Purchase a holder to elevate your device to significantly reduce the amount of neck flexion and forward positioning. Try to keep the device as close to eye-level as possible. This is a great tool to reduce your tech neck.
- Use a chair with a headrest.
If you're not sitting in a chair with a headrest you should switch to one that has one. Make sure to keep the back of your head in contact with the headrest while using your tablet, smartphone or laptop. Keeping the back of your head flush against the headrest will ensure that you're not looking down with your neck flexed forward.
- Exercise your neck.
Yes, there’s a way to work out your neck to help prevent tech neck. Start by giving yourself a side neck stretch by placing four of your right-hand fingers on the left-hand side of your forehead, then place your left hand on your shoulder, and pull your head to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. You could also use Corpus VR to help you with following the correct movements during these exercises.