Dear Neck On The Line:
We feel you, more and more with each word we type! Most humans share your plight and know the discomfort of tech neck (or text neck)—the aches and pains that arise from staring at a screen.
Much of this discomfort likely stems from the placement of our heads. Whether we’re reading emails or adding items to a cart, we usually crane our necks and jut our heads forward to see the screen. This posture can stress the muscles and joints of your back, neck, and shoulders, potentially causing pain that can sometimes become chronic (Choi, 2020). A forward-head posture may also play a role in headaches, dizziness, and irritation of nerves in your neck (Chu, 2020).
The fix? First, let’s adjust your machine: If you use a laptop, add an external monitor, which guidelines show is better for prolonged periods of viewing (CDC, 2020). Position the monitor so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level, about an arm’s length in front of you. Now your turn for an upgrade: While you work, be mindful of where your head is in space. Try to keep it between your shoulders with your chin level to the ground or slightly tucked. Sit up tall and lengthen through the crown of your head.
Hopefully, these fixes help you feel better. There’s much more to solving tech neck, though, including addressing how you position your arms, how you sit, the strength of your core, as well as any underlying injuries you might have. You may want to try a standing desk or schedule a virtual physical therapy appointment to get personalized recommendations for the best strengthening exercises and ergonomic set-up for you.