What Is Tech Neck?
Tech neck – our grandparents and parents were not familiar with this concept, but this problem is typical to most representatives of Generation Z. There has even appeared such an expression as “look down generation.” Almost all inhabitants of the earth who don’t take their phones out of their hands might feel what tech neck is. For example, cities with many software engineers, like Austin, tend to be more exposed to this problem.
Many doctors in Austin report the steady increase in the number of patients suffering from “tech neck,” a consequence of too much looking down at phones and gadgets. In this regard, it is worth noting that an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle add to this problem. Over time, this can lead to chronic headaches, insomnia, and other health conditions.
What Causes Tech Neck?
The neck is one of those problem areas that need constant care and attention. The most common cause is staring at our phones for long periods. But what’s more important – how do we look at the phone screen? From the top downwards, head tilted strongly and neck bent, hunched over the phone.
The chiropractors from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) conducted an experiment in which they asked participants to type text in their usual way on the phone. By observing the technique of text input and recording the muscle activity, they came to certain conclusions. Participants who had previously complained of neck pain typed with their backs and necks bent, resulting in excessive muscle tension. Participants without neck pain generally entered text while sitting with back support and neck straightened. Thus, we may conclude how much your position matters when using the phone.
Other statistics show that the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their phone, reading feeds on social networks and chat. The number is even higher for Austin tech professionals who focus on writing code and spend long hours on their laptops. In addition, a phone or a laptop has long become an alternative to TV. People want to keep abreast of the latest news and watch movies, programs on YouTube, and learn something new. Consequently, they do this with tilted heads.
The Anatomy of Tech Neck
Examining the human spine, we will see three natural curves: a small one in the cervical spine, in the mid-back area, and the lumbar spine. If any of these bends constantly lose their correct position, a specific disorder develops sooner or later, requiring chiropractic treatment.
Our neck is no exception. Bending the neck forward for many hours leads to increased pressure on the intervertebral discs, which over time can cause accelerated aging of the discs, changes in the muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine. So, we are all potentially at risk because neck problems will not keep you waiting.
Major Tech Neck Symptoms
At first, tech neck symptoms will most likely not bother you a lot. The initial signs include muscle stiffness at the end of the day, maybe a little fatigue, and tension when turning your neck and moving your shoulders up. If you are unsure about their nature, visit your chiropractor in Austin so that you can immediately address the issue. Quick intervention upon early detection typically leads to better and quicker outcomes. nip the issue in the bud.
However, if you ignore those symptoms, they will eventually worsen. New warning signs include numbness, tingling, palpable muscle pain, cramps, and even darkening in the eyes.
The most common symptoms include:
If we take our software engineers in Austin as an example, neck pain is not the only thing they will have to confront. There are numerous possible types of pain based on their location and character.
It can be a general aching discomfort in the lower neck, shoulders, and upper back. In other cases, acute stabbing pain is localized in one particular place. Often, there can also be radiation of pain into the shoulders and arms.
Pain in the jaw can also result from a misalignment of your cervical spine and muscles. This pain can lead to another type of pain – headaches.
Bending your head forward for hours can make your neck muscles go into spasm. That neck pain can radiate up into your head, causing that to ache, too. Besides, you may feel increased pain when bending the head forward and looking at the text.
Stiffness implies soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head to the side. Problems in turning the head and the appearance of crunching of the vertebrae in the cervical spine arise due to changes in the intervertebral disc structure.
Soreness and pain in your neck and back can lead to a tight feeling in your upper body, making it harder to move. Eventually, such a reduction in neck motion can affect the individual’s activity levels.
Shoulder muscles may become weak. It can be difficult to lift objects if numbness or weakness goes into the arm or fingers in some cases. It happens when tingling and numbness in the arms and hands as a result of spinal nerve inflammation. If you notice this symptom, do not ignore it, we advise you to consult our chiropractic in Austin as soon as possible.
Text neck also contributes to dizziness as the cervical spine may compress over time. This can put extra pressure on the arteries in the neck and may cause some people to experience dizziness.
Noise in Ears
If you suffer from tinnitus (noise in ears), remember that text neck can be its primary cause. Studies show that people suffering from a text neck are more likely to experience tinnitus. That’s why repairing cervical spine neck ligaments can lead to an alleviation of tinnitus symptoms.
If these symptoms have been a chronic long standing issue, we recommend making an appointment with one of our chiropractors to see if the underlying cause of the symptoms is due to tech neck. If you notice something serious, we recommend that you see a chiropractor who specializes in treating misalignments of the joints. Our chiropractors in Austin are always eager to help you get rid of this troubling issue.
Tech Neck: Does the Weight of My Head Matter?
How much do you think our head weighs? It weighs about 10-12 pounds. Looking at the phone screen, we bend our necks and tilt our heads forward. And the greater the angle, the greater the pressure on the neck muscles and the spinal column.
According to the research, if we look at the screen, we can tilt our head 15 degrees, the load on the neck will increase (around 27 pounds). In case of a tilt of 30 degrees, it reaches 40 pounds, equal to the weight of a six-year-old child. Experts say that when using phones, people are forced to tilt their necks at an angle of 60 degrees, and this tilt is equivalent to a load of 60 pounds for the cervical spine. Imagine how pressured the neck is at this moment and what level of muscular tension the spine is experiencing.
To make this process easier to understand, imagine holding a small dumbbell in your hand. When the hand is down, it is easy for you. But as soon as you stretch your hand to the side, you will feel how the muscles tighten, and with every minute, it becomes more difficult for them to hold the dumbbell.
The same thing happens with our necks. The muscles need to counteract this weight by locking down to hold your head up. This leads to tension headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and tightness in the mid-back and upper traps.
How Does Tech Neck Impact Your Body and Mind?
Neck and back pain may not feel like an emergency, making everyone ignore this pain and consider it normal. Some of us are torn between work, studies, and household chores and, thus, can’t find time to take care of our bodies. It is a usual case for people whose work is connected with a sedentary life, phones, and computers. A vivid example is Austin, where numerous engineers have to work daily sitting with poor posture. We witness dozens of cases and know numerous persons who postpone chiropractic treatment, thinking of their problem as a minor and not severe. But once the symptoms worsen, it may be too late or more difficult for a chiropractor to get the best possible outcomes.
The effects of tech neck are not joyful, so here’s a list of the most common ones. Take your time to examine them to be aware of what the ignorance of tech neck can lead to:
Tech neck can lead to posture problems. The poor posture itself can be the cause and the effect of tech neck. When used to such a posture, you will always tend to lean forward while reading and texting, which is reported to cause stress injuries.
Spending hours hovering over your phone or straining your neck forward during work can cause lengthening of neck muscles and shortening of chest muscles. As a result, this hunched position may cause an increase in spinal pressure in your neck. If you want to check the condition of your spine, you may consult our Lifespring chiropractors in Austin.
The constant tension in the neck and spine usually leads to a decrease in labor productivity. The myriad of minor aches and pains, and the more severe issues impair our efficiency at work. It may result in more sick days or less daily focus due to pain, right down to the need to take more 5-minute breaks to stretch muscles out. In this way, our desire to work as much as possible, even using our cell phone, makes us work less and less.
It has been proven that our posture directly affects our thinking and mood. For example, if you enter the room with the phrase “I feel great!” your feelings will become affirmative. But if you pose meekly (hunching shoulders), they will be negative. It is not difficult to notice this phenomenon.
These poses are involuntary; it does not require much effort to confirm the effect of the posture on emotions by yourself. As a result, many people suffering from depression or low mood tend to sit as a question mark with the neck bent. It works in the opposite direction, too – our posture influences our emotions and spirit.
The research consisted in inviting people to sit in a comfortable position and then asking questions. The research results proved that upright participants showed greater stress resistance, higher self-esteem, and, in general, a better mood than slumped participants.
We sometimes attribute the aforementioned effects to the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, work overload, anxiety, or personal problems. But the thing is that we should deal with the issue as soon as possible until these effects escalate into more severe health problems, which may remain for the rest of our life. Lifespring Chiropractic, located in Austin, is open to providing you with qualified treatment to avoid more severe conditions.
When reading or texting, your head angles forward for lengthy periods. This repetitive strain on the muscles, ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs in the neck can lead to tension headaches.
The extra strain placed on your neck and spine can cause shoulder, upper, or lower back pain as well. If a nerve in your spine becomes pinched, you may experience chronic pain and neurological symptoms, such as tingling or numbness that radiates down your arm.
Untreated tech neck could even cause permanent damage to your cervical spine. Over time, you can develop nerve compression and herniated disks in your cervical spine, all from the long-term effects of your poor posture.
This neck positioning isn’t natural and places extra strain on your cervical spine, neck muscles, and shoulders. As a result, a neck sprain can occur if a ligament or muscle in the neck is overly stretched.
Small-size screen font exacerbates posture problems and strained eyes. When you’re absorbed by digital work, you’ll automatically scrunch and hunch to read the screen. At the same time, your small eye muscles are exhausted more quickly, causing blurred vision and dry eyes. If you don’t take care of your posture and choose the right font size, it will become harder and harder to focus as your reading time increases.
The Possible Dangers of Tech Neck
You can’t overestimate the danger of injury to the cervical vertebrae. It can have a whole spectrum of terrible consequences: from insufficient blood supply to the brain to cervical spine damage All can start with simple pinching as a result of ignored symptoms of tech neck.
Sometimes, the excessive forward head posture may aggravate degenerative conditions in the cervical spine, such as cervical degenerative disc disease and/or cervical osteoarthritis. In such cases, chiropractic manipulation can help to control episodes of more severe pain.
Spinal changes irritate or compress nerve roots in the spinal column, making the spinal canal too small for the spinal cord and nerve roots. This may lead to cervical radiculopathy, the symptoms of which frequently include pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Actually, cervical kyphosis is another name for a text neck. But over time, deviations from this normal curvature can radiate downwards, resulting in an excessive twisting of the thoracic spine – thoracic hyperkyphosis.
Although all the words above may sound scary, you need to remember that all this is preventable. Like many Austin techies, if you suffer from tech neck, visit your chiro to assist you in combating the problem.
Tips to Prevent Tech Neck Pain
The good news is you can condition your body to reverse tech neck pain and prevent further discomfort. If you suffer from tech neck and want to receive personalized advice, you are welcome to make an appointment with one of the qualified chiropractors in Austin. And if you want to get some general advice on what to do, pay attention to the following tips, good habits, and exercises.
To avoid the negative health effects of tech neck, you need to organize your workplace properly:
- The computer monitor should not be too low: the top of the monitor should be at eye level.
- Zoom in on text or pictures to avoid leaning towards the screen.
- We recommend sitting with your back at an angle of 100–135 ° to your legs so that the spine is less stressed.
- Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed, so adjust the keyboard height and tilt to a comfortable height. Place it directly in front of your body.
- Adjust the height of the chair so that your knees are in line with your hips.
- Place your feet next to each other – do not sit with your legs crossed.
To prevent tech neck, it is vital to exercise every day. Distract regularly to stretch your muscles, walk, or at least get up for a few minutes to warm up. In this way, you can avoid tech neck or soothe neck pain by following warm-up and stretching exercises:
- Circular head rotations: do 5 times clockwise, then repeat it in the opposite direction.
- Tilt your head back as if you are trying to look behind your back. Then return to the starting position and lower your chin to your chest. Repeat 5 times.
- Gently turn your head to the right as it is comfortable for you. Lock this position, then turn your head to the other side. Do 5-10 repetitions.
- Tilt your head to your shoulder, trying to touch it with your cheek (do not lift your shoulders). Feel the stretch in your neck muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then tilt your head to the other shoulder. Repeat several times.
- Do eye exercises. It may seem that the eyes have nothing to do with the neck and your posture in front of the computer. However, eye fatigue can make you slouch and lean closer to the computer more often. Get in the habit of just looking away from the screen for a few seconds every 30 minutes of use.
- Don’t forget about aerobic exercises such as jogging, swimming, or cycling outdoors or at the gym. Austin houses numerous swimming pools and gyms, so you have everything to help you have a healthier neck and body.
Note: Be careful in performing even these simplest exercises and don’t overestimate your body potential. Do the exercises slowly and immediately stop if you feel any pain. If you happen to experience pain that doesn’t cease, you should see a doctor without delay. For Austin residents, Lifespring Chiropractic is open to provide immediate treatment to its patients.
Regular stretching is another way to treat or keep neck pain at bay. Yoga exercises can be helpful when it comes to relaxing tight muscles and muscle pain. That’s why it’s worth trying these 7 yoga exercises, or asanas, that work in different ways to increase range of motion, reduce muscle tension in your neck, and soothe neck and shoulder discomfort. A small notice – remember to warm up before performing these asanas so that your muscles are warm and more flexible.
Massage for neck pain improves blood circulation in the problem area, increases the mobility of the vertebrae, and, most importantly, provides neck pain relief. However, these results tend to be temporary. That’s why it is better to combine massage with chiropractic and exercises.
If you are uncertain about your next steps or suffer great neck, shoulder, and low-back pain, visiting a chiropractor can help. A chiropractor will inquire about device usage and work habits to match up your symptoms with postural distortions that contribute to tech neck.
Although we may be obliged to spend hours sitting with the neck bent, retaining good posture, taking short warm-up breaks, and getting daily movement are the essential tools on your way to a healthy neck. Pay attention to the earliest signs of pain and muscle tension to avoid the unpleasant and terrible effects of tech neck. If you notice unusual neck, shoulder, or low-back pain – Lifespring Chiropractic in Austin is open to help you correct tech neck and the problems associated with it.