How Your Screen Time Can Cause Real Pain – And How to Prevent It

Do you find yourself typing lots of emails on your laptop? How about unwinding at the end of the day by scrolling through your social media feed on your smart phone? Bad news: all the common connected conveniences of our modern world have created the perfect position for…pain! That’s right, simply scrolling on your phone while you wait at the doctor’s office, or reading books on your tablet have had the unintended consequence of giving lots of people a real pain in the neck. It’s called “tech neck” – and you may even have noticed some of the symptoms yourself. We take a look at this modern day annoyance, and what you can do to prevent it (without throwing out your electronics)…

Tech Neck is Real (and Really Common)

Tech neck is a funny term given to a real collection of physical symptoms; thanks to our attachment to working (and playing) on smart phones, tablets, and laptops, it’s growing more common all the time. Tech neck is characterized by pain, stiffness, and/or discomfort in the neck and occasional pain/discomfort that can radiate into the upper back or even the shoulders. This high-tech irritation doesn’t discriminate – young and old are equally susceptible, although older sufferers may have more problems, especially if they already have limited mobility or have preexisting injuries or issues.

The Proof is in the Posture

Next time you’re scrolling through your emails or playing a game on your phone, pay attention to your posture. Chances are you aren’t sitting the way that’s best for your body; rather, tech neck is caused and exacerbated by electronics users who hold a phone or tablet up with one or both hands, hunch forward, with the head tilted down. Ouch! Laptop users aren’t immune, because in order to use the laptop it’s frequently…on your lap – which reproduces a similar hunch and head tilt. The angled head puts pressure on the neck, the shoulders and back are rounded, everything is thrown out of whack and if you sit like that for minutes (or hours) on end, you can see where the problems creep in.

How to Beat a Pain in the Neck

Short of throwing your electronics in the garbage and going back to snail mail or old fashioned paper communication and information, what can you do to prevent this painful condition? There are some basic steps you can take, like:

  1. Take breaks. Don’t endlessly stare at a screen in the same position. Put down your phone, tablet, or laptop and take regular breaks to give your body (and brain) a break. Put your laptop on a table to reduce your odds of hunching while you work.
  2. Check your posture. If you find yourself holding your phone or tablet like a T-rex, and leaning forward like you’re trying to touch your chin to your chest, gently stretch and try to maintain a more neutral neck and head position with relaxed arms and a straight, solid core.
  3. See an expert. Many people work on computers all day and then spend more time on hand-held electronics. If you spend all your screen-time with poor posture you could create a tougher tech neck situation and seeing a physical therapist might speed your recovery time. A PT can also help show you the right (and wrong) ways to get through your day at work and relaxation time – so your neck doesn’t need a fancy name for its condition!

Got questions or feeling a little pain in your neck from all your screen time? Body One Physical Therapy can help! We are locally-owned with four locations bringing quality, compassionate care to Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our highly-skilled providers work with clients from all walks of life and all ages, and can help you “do you,” but even better. Call Body One today and take the first step to a healthier you!