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  • Emily McGuire

How to Fix Tech Neck: Correcting Forward Head Posture

In a world full of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it's no wonder most of us end up glued to our screens for hours. The digital era has made life more convenient and connected, but it has also brought about some new health concerns. Tech neck has been garnering a lot of attention lately as a growing issue among tech users.



Man hunched over a laptop


What is Tech Neck?


Tech neck or “text neck” refers to a forward head posture caused by spending prolonged amounts of time looking down at a phone or computer. The condition is characterized by tension and discomfort in the neck and shoulders. The posture so many of us adopt while looking down at our devices puts repeated pressure on our necks. Over time, this compromises the natural curve of the neck, leading to a hunched posture in which the neck and head are drawn forward so that they are no longer in alignment with the rest of the spine. Beyond soreness, tech neck can cause headaches, a reduction in neck mobility, tingling or numbness in the hands, and, in severe cases, chronic pain. To test if you have forward head posture, stand with your back against a wall, if your head does not touch the wall, your head is too far forward.



Tips to Prevent Tech Neck: Simple Lifestyle Changes

To prevent or fix forward head posture, we must become more conscious of the way we use our devices, and make lifestyle changes to improve our neck health. Here are some simple tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of tech neck:


  • Maintain Good Posture: Be conscious of your posture while using devices. Keep your head up and shoulders relaxed, maintaining a neutral spine position – ideally, your rib cage and hips should be parallel. If you are sitting often, try to keep both feet planted on the ground or on a footrest, as crossing your legs can make it more difficult to maintain good posture.

  • Take a Screen Break: Incorporate breaks in your screen time each day. Take a moment to stand up, stretch, and move around at regular intervals to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders. If you often lose track of time, try setting a timer for yourself to take breaks.

  • Use Ergonomic Accessories: Investing in a few ergonomic accessories could help you avoid tech neck. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, consider getting a stand to raise your monitor or laptop to eye level, this will help you spend less time tilting your head downwards. For a more in-depth look at proper posture while using a computer, check out our desk ergonomics blog post. When using your phone, try to get into the habit of holding your phone closer to eye level or consider getting a phone stand to elevate your phone for you. If you work at a desk most of the day, ensure you have a chair that facilitates good posture, and consider getting a standing desk to help take some pressure off your back.

  • Exercise Regularly: Strengthening the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back through regular exercise can provide support and reduce the risk of developing tech neck.



How to Fix Tech Neck: Stretches to Correct Neck Posture


Try doing these exercises during your screen breaks to facilitate better posture and strengthen your neck muscles.



Chin Tuck Tech Neck Stretch Demonstration


Chin Tucks

  1. Begin with your head looking straight ahead, your ears should be over your shoulders.

  2. Pull your chin back toward your chest, as if you are making a double chin, feeling the stretch in the back of your neck as those muscles lengthen.

  3. Hold for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 10 times, stopping if it feels painful.

 


Neck Flexion Tech Neck Stretch Demonstration


Neck Flexion Stretch

  1. Tuck your chin as though you are making a double chin.

  2. Place your hand on the crown of your head, so that your arm crosses your forehead.

  3. Gently pull your head towards your chest, feeling the stretch as it lengthens the muscles at the back of your neck.

  4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, repeating 3 times.

 


Hand to Ear Tech Neck Stretch Demonstration


Hand-to-Ear Stretch (Trapezius Stretch)

  1. Reaching over your head, place your hand on the opposite side of your head, so that your fingertips touch the top of your ear. Tuck your other arm behind your back.

  2. Applying gentle force, pull your head down towards your shoulder.

  3. Hold for 30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the side of your neck and your trapezius muscle.

  4. Repeat on the other side.

 


Lateral Neck Stretch Demonstration


Lateral Neck Stretch

  1. Begin with your head turned to one side, with your chin pointed down toward your armpit.

  2. Using the opposite hand, place your fingers under your ear on the same side.

  3. Slowly lift your chin up and to the opposite side, as though you are drawing a diagonal line with your chin. Slide your fingers down your neck toward your shoulder as you do so.

  4. Repeat for 1 minute on each side.

 


Seated Abdominal Twist Demonstration


Bonus Desk Stretch: Seated Abdominal Twist

  1. Begin in a seated position with both feet planted on the floor.

  2. Cross your forearms in front of you, holding them about shoulder height.

  3. Slowly rotate your upper body to one side, keeping your hips in place.

  4. Return to the middle and repeat, rotating to the other side.

 


Professional Treatment for Tech Neck


If tech neck is causing you pain and discomfort, it may be time to see a professional. Physical therapy can be a highly effective, non-invasive approach to treating and preventing forward head posture. Tech neck treatment aims to address the root causes, strengthening the neck and shoulders while promoting proper posture. The experts at Rehab United in San Diego can help you achieve a healthy, pain-free neck posture.

 


A Healthy Relationship with Tech


As we navigate the digital era, we need to prioritize our health and well-being. By being mindful of screen use and adopting preventative measures, we can mitigate the effects of tech neck. Investing in your health today will pay dividends in the long run. Embrace a healthier digital lifestyle, and consider physical therapy as a valuable resource on your journey to wellness.


 

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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.


Medically Reviewed By: Arturo Valle, PT, DPT, FAFS, CSCS, STMT-1, BFR-1, CCI, is a Physical Therapist, Clinic Director of Rehab United in Escondido, and Director of Rehab United’s Quality Assurance Program. As a graduate of USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Valle has always emphasized the implementation of Evidence-Based Practice into all plans of care. Throughout his 12 years of experience, Dr. Valle has treated thousands of orthopedic-related and sports injuries and mentored countless Physical Therapists and Students of Physical Therapy.

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