Most of our kids have settled into their school routines, which require a greater use of computers and technology than ever before. Team Health Care Clinic’s physical therapists see many patients in our clinic with poor posture from technology use. With today’s technology we have seen a decline in good posture, and an increase in pain– often referred to as “tech neck.” Technology is here to stay, so self-awareness, education, and practicing good posture habits are necessary for our overall health.
When you are in neutral posture the shoulders are back and the ears are in line with the shoulders and the arms hang at the sides with the palms toward the legs.
There is an increased forward curve of the neck that causes the head to move forward. The head is perched forward, the shoulders are rounded and possibly a head tilt or rotation.
Effects of Poor Posture
The muscles on the front of the neck and the mid back are stretched from the forward movement of the head, and become weak. The muscles on the back of the neck and the front of the shoulders become tight. These muscle imbalances cause neck pain due to muscle fatigue, strain, displacement stress on the joints, and loss of motion.
Posture with Technology Use
A flexed posture when working on your computer or mobile device loads the spine causing more stress. When the neck is neutral the head places about10-12 pounds of load to the cervical spine. When you flex the neck to 30 degrees you place 40 pounds of load on your spine and when you flex forward to 60 degrees the load is 60 pounds. The average kid, according to the Department of Health spends 3 hours a day using screen media. That is a significant amount of repetitive strain on the neck and upper back, and will impact over all spine health.
Neck Pain Prevention
There are a few simple things you can do right now to decrease the stress on your neck with the use of technology:
- Set time limits for using your devices
- Take frequent brakes
- Raise your device – hold your phone in front of you and raise your computer monitor so your neck is neutral.
- Use pain as a warning and take a break or re-adjust your position
- Alternate position of workstation from seated to standing
If you experience pain in the neck, upper back, or numbness and tingling in the arms it is time to seek help. Physical therapy and chiropractic assessments will determine what posture, joint, and muscle dysfunctions are causing pain and symptoms. Addressing neutral posture in physical therapy treatments is valuable in providing efficient and lasting relief of neck pain and vital to a healthy spine and healthy living.