Tech Neck at Work: The Growing Concern and How to Prevent It
Work Wellness

Tech Neck at Work: The Growing Concern and How to Prevent It

|Sep 5, 2023
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If you're a working professional who spends long hours at your desk crunching numbers or creating presentations, you may be one of the many employees who suffer from a “tech neck.” 

In this article, we will explore what a tech neck is, its effect on the human body, and the different tech neck exercises you can do to prevent it from occurring. 

Read until the end, as we will also explore some tips on how you can fix your tech neck and how a standing desk can help improve your work routine. 

Let's get started! 

What Is a Tech Neck?

When you spend too much time on your laptop, mobile phone, or any other electronic device and stare at the screen from a poor eye level, you're at risk of having a tech neck. This term is used to refer to the strain in the neck caused by stressing the muscles. 

A "tech neck" is a new terminology given to an old problem called neck pain. This type of injury occurs due to repetitive strain on the neck muscles and other tissue structures of the cervical spine. 

As more time passes, the tech neck or "computer neck" can worsen, causing further issues that could lead to chronic pain. If not treated immediately, poor viewing posture can damage the spine, leading to joint inflammation, pinched nerves, and even herniated discs. 

The average weight of a person's head is around 10 to 12 lbs. This is a lot of weight for the spine and neck muscles to support and ensure that the head remains upright. Poor viewing posture or tilting down for long periods of time can cause the head to tilt, leading to stiffness, soreness, and posture problems. 

Tech or computer neck is more common than you think. A study conducted by Al-Hadidi F, Bsisu I, AlRyalat SA, et al. in 2019 surveyed 500 students to determine the relationship between neck pain and screen time. 

The findings revealed a positive correlation between the two, which means that the participants who spent more time viewing a screen suffered from soreness, stiffness, and neck pain.

What Is a Tech Neck?

The Effects of a Tech Neck

When you tilt your head downwards to view a screen, it causes pressure on the neck muscles, causing them to elongate. At the same time, the repetitive actions can lead to the shortening of the chest muscles, resulting in a hunched posture. This can result in pain in the shoulder and spinal region.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the pressure on the spinal cord from muscle stiffness can lead to pinched nerves, which can cause severe pain and discomfort. It can sometimes last for a long time and may require surgical intervention. 

Poor viewing angles can lead to a hunched posture that forces the shoulder muscles to come forward. Over time, this can cause injuries to the rotator cuff. This can result in inflammation and shoulder pain (rotator cuff tendinitis).

Those who are already suffering from rotator cuff injuries are at a greater risk of medical complications if they continue to strain their neck muscles. 

Computer neck not only impacts the neck muscles but also causes further problems. The constant pressure on a person's spinal cord due to poor viewing angles can result in lower back pain, headaches, and herniated discs. It can even lead to jaw pain. 

Every human is born with a natural C-shaped neck curvature. Poor posture can adversely impact the shape of the neck, resulting in cervical kyphosis, which occurs when the top of the spine curves in the opposite direction. 

There are some exercises as part of the tech neck treatment to help alleviate stiffness and soreness. Let's go over them in the next section.

The Effects of a Tech Neck

Tech Neck Exercises You Can Do to Relieve Tension

According to a study conducted by Punjama Tunwattanapong, Ratcharin Kongkasuwan, and Vilai Kuptniratsaikul in 2016, office workers suffering from neck pain due to poor posture can alleviate stiffness and soreness by doing tech neck exercises five times a week. 

There are several tech neck exercises you can do to alleviate neck pain, and these include the following:

  • Chin tucks
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Seated neck release
  • Reverse shoulder stretch
  • Hand-to-forehead stretch
  • Seated heart opener
  • T-spine windmill stretch
  • Child's pose 

If you're a working professional who spends long hours viewing a screen, it's essential to take certain steps to prevent tech neck from developing.

Tech Neck Exercises You Can Do to Relieve Tension

How to Prevent Tech Neck at Work?

Since a tech neck has far greater consequences than one can imagine, it is essential to maintain the correct posture while working. These days, professionals often neglect their health due to the demanding nature of their jobs, which can cause them to sit in the same position for long hours, leading to a serious strain on their necks. 

There are several ways you can improve your posture while at work to prevent tech neck, and these include the following: 

  • Keep the screen at arm's length (about 20 to 30 inches away from the eyes).
  • Use books or a stand to elevate the laptop, computer screen, or smartphone to the right level.
  • You should always sit with your head, hips, and spine stacked.
  • The wrists should be straight, while the elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor, and align your knees with your hips.

If you're a working professional that spends long hours in front of the screen, there are several products that can help prevent tech neck, some of which include the following:

Posture Correctors

These are products that gently pull back the shoulders and properly align the spine. It trains the muscles and the brain to maintain the correct posture at all times, even if you're not wearing the device. 

Posture correctors come with adjustable straps that allow you to customize the degree of shoulder pull. This ensures a comfortable posture while providing you with the support you need for a long day of work.

How to Prevent Tech Neck at Work?

Posture Reminder Apps

Most of us get carried away with our daily tasks at work, often failing to maintain the correct posture, which can lead to a computer neck. 

There are many different posture reminder apps that come with several great features. Some of these include notifications, motion sensor feedback, and periodical check-ins, among many others. 

Standing Desks

Standing desks are not only great for reducing blood sugar levels and the risk of obesity, but they are also fantastic for improving your posture. These types of work tables come with single, dual, or triple motors that can help adjust the desk's height, ensuring an optimal viewing angle. 

In the next section, we'll look at how standing desks can help prevent tech neck.

Standing Desks

How Standing Desks Can Be Beneficial in Preventing Tech Neck?

Whether it is an automatic sit-and-stand desk or an L-shaped standing desk, these types of work tables are great for preventing a tech neck. 

Standing desks come with a control panel and a programmable keypad that allows you to adjust the height of the desk according to your needs and pre-set your preferred height settings. It is not only convenient but also great for your health. 

Adjusting the height of a standing desk allows working professionals to bring their computer or laptop screens to the optimum eye level. This ensures that you're looking at the screen without tilting your head down, preventing strain on the neck muscles and spinal cord. It reduces the risk of stiffness and soreness after a long day at work.

There are some types of standing desks that come with additional features, such as storage space and cable management, among others. These allow professionals to have an organized workstation, which is excellent for productivity.

You can also complement the standing work table with an ergonomic desk chair. The combination of these two will provide you with the comfort you need to spend long hours at the office.

An ergonomic chair allows you to adjust the height, tilt, and armrest, allowing you to work comfortably. Another key feature of this type of sitting solution is the lumbar support.

Some ergonomic chairs may come with padded lumbar support that ensures you maintain the correct posture throughout the day. It helps reduce the pain and stiffness associated with a bad sitting position.

How Standing Desks Can Be Beneficial in Preventing Tech Neck?

Tips to Get the Most Out of a Standing Desk to Prevent a Tech Neck

The equipment is as good as the person using it. This means that if you're not using the equipment to its maximum potential, you're losing on the benefits it has to offer. The same is true for standing desks. 

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your standing desk and prevent a tech neck: 

Create a Sitting and Standing Schedule

Changing your routine or habits can take time to get used to, which can put off many professionals from embracing change. However, it's essential to understand that it is part of the process, and the best way to tackle that is by creating a sitting and standing schedule. 

The trick is to ensure that the standing intervals get longer and longer every day. This will ensure that you get used to the standing desk and eventually incorporate it into your daily routine.

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Do Some Exercises

Although you may be looking at the screen all day long, with a sit-and-stand workstation, you can do some standing desk exercises to stay active and healthy. This is a great way to get your heart rate up and can even give you time to think of solutions for the problems you may be facing at work.

Do Some Exercises

Focus on Your Shoulders

Although a standing desk can help improve your posture, it may not do much for your shoulders, as hunching or slouching can become a habit. 

Getting rid of bad habits can be challenging, but by focusing on your shoulders, you'll be able to adjust to the change slowly. Eventually, it may feel natural.

Make Sure You're Mobile

Even if you invest in the best home standing desk, a sedentary lifestyle will never do your body the wonders you're expecting the equipment to do. 

You must put your body into motion and get the blood flowing. Make sure you move around while standing. It's not only good for your health, but it might also spur creativity.

Stand on Something Soft

Whether it is a fatigue mat or a flow board, having something soft under your feet can relieve some of the pressure and prevent blood from accumulating in your legs.

Stand on Something Soft

Tech Neck Treatment: How to Fix Tech Neck

If you've been at your screen for longer than you can remember, you may be suffering from a tech neck. The pain and discomfort can prevent you from performing to the best of your abilities. 

Fortunately for you, there are some tips on how to fix tech neck, and these include the following: 

  • Take breaks between your work to prevent straining your neck muscles. You can stretch and exercise during the break to get the blood flowing.
  • Getting a massage after a long day at work can help relax the neck muscles, improve blood flow, and increase the level of oxygen in the tissues. This can prevent the pain associated with a computer neck. Some of the best recliners for neck pain come with a massage feature that heats and applies pressure to key regions of the body, alleviating stiffness and soreness.
  • Investing in the best smart health devices can help you stay on top of your body's vital signs. Some of these equipment monitor heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature, allowing you to take immediate measures when necessary.
  • If you're suffering from intense tech neck pain, you may want to consider taking over-the-counter medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or muscle relaxants in extreme cases. 

In some cases, your pain may not disappear even after following the tips mentioned above. If that happens, it's best to reach out to a specialist to start your tech neck treatment.

Tech Neck Treatment: How to Fix Tech Neck

Final Thoughts

The more you look down at your screen, the more your muscles are working to keep your head up. This can lead to a repetitive injury followed by chronic pain. 

By purchasing devices and equipment that can help you maintain a good posture throughout the workday, you're investing in your health. It is also crucial to add some exercises to your work routine to ensure a better and healthy future.

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