If you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone or computer, you may notice an increase of pain in your neck and shoulders. As the popularity of phones and tablets continues to rise, there has also been an increase in this kind of pain due to constant strain on these muscles. It’s easy to slip into bad habits and have poor posture while using these types of devices more often, but it’s important to catch on early and address these issues before they worsen.
There are ways to manage this pain, as well as ways to avoid it altogether. Implementing simple stretches and exercises into your everyday will help to train your body to have better posture during these activities and help to reverse the pain felt from tech neck.
Stephen Vitale PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, OMT, Clinical Director at Professional Physical Therapy, recommends the below tips and tricks to avoid tech neck pain.
Sometimes we think that when we have pain, there must be injury to our body, but that is not always the case. Many times, “tech neck” pain is the normal response of the body asking us to make a change. Imagine if you bent your wrist to its end range and held it there. Eventually, it would start to bother you even if it didn’t at first. One important aspect of the management of neck pain, is understanding what a neutral position is. This will help you to manage your neck properly and reduce the irritability.
When setting up your work station, there are a few general rules of thumb:
- The top of the screen should be level with your eyes
- Wrist and forearms should be supported
- Elbows bent a little less than 90o
- Feet should be flat on the floor
- Everything should be as directly in front of you as possible
- Hips should be slightly higher than the knees (when sitting)
- Back support should be up the shoulders (when sitting)
- Screen should be no more than 1 arm’s length away
Sometimes, even with the best desk set up, we still will end up in positions that will stress our neck and back. It is very important to try to use exercise to combat the forces of gravity on us all day.
Nose Nod/ Chin Tuck/ Deep Neck Flexor
When we are all stuck looking at a screen, we tend to have a “forward head” posture. Think about gently nodding your nose down like you are giving yourself a double chin. Don’t allow the mirror muscles (the muscles you can see if you look in a mirror) to tense up.
Deep Neck Extensors
Close your hands into a fist and stack them on top of each other. Lean over on a table with your elbows well supported. Flatten the top hand and hold this position. Then place your fist back in place. Your head should not have to raise or drop. Your hand should fit perfectly back into place. Relax your head on your hand for a rest period of about 5 seconds.
Foam Roller on Thoracic Spine
Laying on the roller on your back, support your head with your arms and slowly roll up and down on your back. Do not roll onto your lower back, or your neck. Stay on your back where you can feel your rib cage.
Corner Pec Stretch
Put both forearms on the wall in a corner and lean forward until you feel a stretch across your chest muscles. Don’t over stretch.
The most important thing to remember is that this type of pain develops from being in one position for too long. Do your best to become as creative as possible about building movement into your daily routine. Take phone calls while walking, switch between sitting and standing during the day, lay horizontal on rest breaks, etc. Having your head down while looking at your computer is not the problem. Having your head down while looking at the computer and not moving around enough is the problem. If you can manage this, your body will get better.
If you’re experiencing tech neck pain, schedule an appointment with a Professional Physical Therapist, visit us at https://www.professionalpt.com/physical-therapy-clinics-near-me/.