If you use a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or even a desktop computer, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of tech neck. It’s the pain that you experience in your neck, shoulders and upper back that comes from leaning over your device.
Though the most effective method of addressing the problem is to put away all electronics, that solution is neither desirable nor even possible in most cases. Still, there are steps you can take to counter the impact of hunching over all the time, as well as simple exercises to ease discomfort once it appears.
How to Prevent Tech Neck Pain
- Be aware of your posture. It’s easy to fall into bad habits, especially if you’re concentrating hard on what’s appearing on your screen. If you can train yourself to pay attention to your position, you are more likely to correct it. One good trick to help with this is to attach a pillow, a folded-up towel or even a rolled-up newspaper or magazine and attaching it to the back of your chair to remind yourself to put your shoulders back and sit up straight.
- Elevate your device. If your monitor is too low, you’re looking down and making the problem worse. If you’re using a phone or a table, raise it up to eye level.
- Move and stretch. Do not sit in one spot for an extended period of time. Get up at least every half hour and do some stretches. It’s also a good idea to walk around the office or block to get your muscles moving and your posture back to a healthier position.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is an essential element of staying healthy, and that includes easing pain from your neck and shoulders.
How to Address Tech Neck Pain
If it’s already too late and your neck is hurting, you can ease your discomfort by spending a small amount of money on a foam roller, then spending 5 minutes using it. You’ve probably seen people at the gym using foam rollers to assist with muscle recovery, but it can also help to ease stress and improve mobility. According to Lauren Roxburgh, author of Taller, Slimmer, Younger: 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique, “Most of us have tension in our upper back, neck and shoulders due to constant hunching over a computer at work, looking at our phones, and from sitting and driving. This constant slumping can create stiffness and tightness over time, not to mention postural imbalances. When you have all of that tension present, it compresses your body, especially your spine and shoulders.”
The most effective way to use a foam roller to ease tech neck pain is to start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and the foam roller positioned horizontally, under your upper middle back. Support your head and neck by cradling your head in your hands as you would while doing sit-ups, then lift your hips up into a bridge position. Once your hips are elevated, roll back and forth on top of the roller so that it rolls along the length of your spine between your shoulder blades and the bottom of your rib cage.
If this type of exercise does not provide you with relief, there may be a structural problem that requires medical attention. Contact our New Jersey spine specialist today to set up an appointment for a consultation.