04 Sep Tech Neck – are you at risk?
Straighten your head. Hear that creak? That’s your tech neck protesting. It’s a new ailment, triggered by the smartphone and identified by American doctor and chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, Kenneth Hansraj.
According to Hansraj’s research, when the head is held at a 60-degree angle, the spine feels the weight of the head as five times its actual mass. And it’s causing real problems.
Hansraj explains it’s a real problem among the young and could lead to long-term neck and spinal injuries. Another likely effect is jowly wrinkles — making you look prematurely aged. The issue is that most people don’t just let their neck hang forward, because the immediate stretch sensation makes us change our head on neck position, try sustained looking down for 30 seconds and you’ll want to move. Instead, people ‘prop’ their elbows either on their tummy or waist, to pull the phone away from their bodies and to get the focal distance to where they need it. They then poke their chin out to get the screen in front of the eyes.
Poking out the chin is the problem, the head is heavy in relation to the muscles that support it so this position irritates and stretches the front portion of the cervical spinal discs in the neck and causes pain in traps and down the inside of your shoulder blades. People will also feel stiffness and knots in their neck and back muscles.
How can you prevent it? First up, simply hold your phone higher (also minimising the chance of walking into a lamppost or other human being) and work on thoracic mobility, lifting your chest, and keeping your chin in and centred in the middle will help also.
Other advice includes adjusting your position regularly when using a device. If you do get neck pain the try gentle neck rotations while lying with your head supported comfortably, or lying on a rolled towel between the shoulder blades with pillow support for the head.
So hold your head up high — your looks depend on it.
Major fact – When the head is held at a 60-degree angle, the spine feels the weight of the head as five times its actual mass.