Neck and upper back pain have become more common with the use of high tech communication equipment. Have you noticed that everywhere you go people are using their smart phones, iPads or other devices to text or read? People are using their devices in coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls, and even walking down the street. This article discusses activities that a person can perform to avoid or help to reduce neck and upper back pain from the prolonged use of these high tech communication devices.
How Does Tech Neck Happen?
Tech neck is all about poor posture. Placing the neck in a flexed forward posture for several minutes can initiate fatigue in the muscles. The head weighs from 10-12 pounds (4.5 to 5 kg). When the neck is in the flexed position, the muscles on the back of the neck and upper back have to support this weight. The further the neck is flexed forward causes more weight and stress to be placed on the muscles, ligaments, joints, and nerves of the neck and upper back.
Once the muscles become fatigued, the tone changes and they become vulnerable to postural strain. During postural strain the muscle fibers and the covering over the muscles tear resulting in swelling. Stiffness and pain begin when this happens to the muscles. The pain cycle has begun and gets worse over time.
What Can Be Done to Ease the Discomfort of Tech Neck?
Tech devices are here to stay. The good news is that there are many options for us to ease or eliminate pain and discomfort. It takes some effort from the user to accomplish this goal. The following suggestions may be helpful.
- Exercises – Stretching and strengthening exercises performed on a regular basis.
- Eyewear – Have your eyes checked. Eyestrain can trigger neck and upper back tightness and pain. Wearing bifocals may require the head to be tipped back slightly when the neck is flexed. This posture adds additional strain to the upper neck muscles. Hold the device so the head is not tipped.
- Chiropractic Care – Periodic chiropractic care helps to maintain spinal joint motion and muscular balance. With prolonged stress, the joints become locked causing reduced motion and pain.
- Pillow – Proper neck support relaxes the neck muscles and “resets” the muscles for the next day.
- Massage Therapy – Soft tissue massage helps to relieve muscle tension.
- Mini Breaks – Every few minutes look up and move your neck around to change the stress placed on the muscles, ligaments and spinal joints. Performing 1-2 of the neck and upper back stretching exercises helps to alter muscle tension.
High tech gadgets and machines will continue to be with us in the future. This article gives you a plan to help reduce neck and upper back pain. Self-discipline is also needed to continue performing exercises, maintaining correct posture and getting periodic care for neck and back complaints. A healthy neck will allow for more enjoyment when using hand held high tech devices for work and recreation.
The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience in treating “tech neck.”