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What the Tech?!

person with neck pain working at computerBy Dr. Stephen Motze

“Tech neck” simply refers to aches and pains felt in the cervical spine or neck, due to the repetitive forces that are placed on our necks throughout each day as we use and scroll through our smartphones and computers.

These repetitive forces placed on the neck cause strain and the potential for additional injuries to the muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones throughout your cervical spine. These structures work together to ensure proper alignment of the spine, and in turn, optimal function of the central nervous system as it passes from the brain down through the spinal canal.

These repetitive forces are due to gravity and the structures in our neck working together to overcome the increased load. As we bend our head forward in a flexed position to look at our phones, tablets, and other devices, our head weight transfers from being supported over our shoulders and body to an unsupported position against gravity. For every inch your head is tilted forward, the weight and force put on your neck doubles. This stressed position can lead to pain, stiffness, headaches, and permanent damage to the spine over time. However, ditching our technology isn’t really an option, especially for those working on a computer, tablet, or other devices. So, let’s go over some tips to prevent tech neck!

Preventing Tech Neck

  • Stretch it out: Getting into and following through with a routine of stretches, exercises, and good posture can help train the body and mind to keep the head in a neutral and safe position to prevent tech neck. Evidence has shown that regular stretching, strengthening, and proper ergonomics can have positive benefits to your overall spinal health. Proper ergonomics while on a laptop or computer are key, especially if you spend hours and hours per day working on one. This includes using a chair with ample lumbar support on the low back. Chair height is also important, as your feet should be flat on the floor. This proper foundation will allow the spine’s natural curves to support the rest of your body.
  • Examine monitor height: Your monitor or laptop should be at eye level, or at most, 30 degrees below eye level. Elbows should be at your side with the keyboard and mouse in close proximity to prevent extension and strain of the neck and upper back. The same goes for use with a standing desk! Be proactive and be aware of your neck position throughout the day.
  • Take breaks: Evidence has also shown that break periods can help you avoid pain. Set reminders on your phone or computer to take regular breaks to ensure your posture is correct to help relieve the tension in your neck and upper back.
  • Move your neck: If your neck is beginning to feel discomfort, it’s probably time to stretch! Here are a few stretches to try and ease tension on the various muscles throughout the neck. Sit in a comfortable position, look to your left knee, and drop your right ear towards the front part of your right shoulder. To feel a greater stretch, add a chin tuck at the end of this motion and hold for 15-second increments and repeat with the opposite side. Next, sit in a comfortable position, look to your left knee, drop your chin down to your chest again holding for 15 seconds. For a deeper stretch, place your left hand on top of your head and pull towards your left knee. Another stretch is to simply try and bring your ear to your shoulder and use your hand overtop your head to feel a greater stretch. To strengthen the neck muscles, place 2 fingers on your chin, tuck your chin, and gently pull your head back and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Get some rest: Last but certainly not least, practice proper sleep posture. Sleeping on your stomach is problematic in that it causes our necks to be stuck in a rotated position in order to breathe. This could cause trigger points in the muscle and joint dysfunction, which leads to pain. Sleeping on your side and/or back is ideal, particularly when using a proper pillow that allows for a neutral, relaxed position of the cervical spine. If you wake in the morning with a stiff, sore, or painful neck, it might be time for a new pillow!

Have our friendly team at Comprehensive Chiropractic show and demonstrate the Chiroflow pillow to ease your neck pain. This clinically proven pillow has been rated the best pillow through a Johns Hopkins University study for pain relief and improved quality of sleep.

Ask us for more tips when you visit our practice! We look forward to seeing you soon!


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