Staying Connected Comes with a Price

Tech Neck: The Painful Price of Staying Connected

You may not be hunched over a sewing machine in a sweat shop, but 21st century technology may be even worse for your posture.  Tech neck is the new posture syndrome that can have big health consequences, especially as many people spend 4-8 hours a day texting, tweeting and typing on phones and tablets.

Looking down at a phone adds to your joint stress, making your phone a true pain in the neck.

Research is showing just how much posture stress from our tech devices is hurting our health.  According a recent study, looking down at your phone with just 15 degrees of forward head tilt more than doubles the pressure on the neck and upper back, and it gets worse from there.

An adult head typically weighs 10 to 12 pounds when it’s in a neutral position. But as soon as you begin to tilt your head forward, the amount of weight your neck has to support dramatically increases. Researchers found tilting your head forward just 15 degrees surges the amount of pressure on your spine to 27 pounds. Depending on how far forward your phone habits make you tilt your head, it can add up to a whopping 60 pounds of pressure on your neck and spine!

When you consider on average people spend two to four hours every day with head tilted down texting, gaming and reading on smart phones, the increased pressure on your neck adds up and stresses spinal joints and discs.  And it’s worse with young adults – one study showed college women spent 10 hours a day on their devices (the men spent “only” 8!).

Doctors are seeing increasing numbers of people, from middle school age to adult, complaining of neck aches, back pain, pinched nerves with some showing signs of early arthritis.

tech neck textingTech Neck causes more than muscle and joint pain.

From vision problems to early lines and wrinkles around continuously bent necks, Tech Neck is making people look and feel old before their time.  New studies are linking sitting and texting posture with breathing problems, heart disease and other conditions. So a bit of attention to how you use your body is important to keep your body taking care of you.

Dr. Weiniger’s 5 Tech Neck Tips

  1. Move More and be posture aware
  2. Level your head – Lift phone to eye-level and bend your neck less
  3. Pull your elbows in and roll your shoulders back and down
  4. Keep your core engaged (it supports your torso, which supports your neck)
  5. Do StrongPosture® Exercise daily -10 minutes daily trains you to stand taller and maximize the benefits of other exercise

Tech-Neck StrongPosture® Break

StrongPosture® exercises use MUST vs TRY cues to create awareness and progressively retrain control of each PostureZone®.  Give your posture a break by holding StrongPosture® and then taking 5 slow breaths, keeping each MUST as you focus on the TRY.

PostureZone 4: HEAD

MUST: Level, eyes looking straight ahead
TRY: Align head over torso – pull head back, keeping ears over shoulders

PostureZone 3: TORSO

MUST: Open, erect and level
TRY: Shoulders back & down

TIP: Start with a baseline photograph of your current posture. Take a PostureZone® picture, and recheck and compare each month.

Blog Author: Health Expert Dr. Steven Weiniger

Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J., Consedine, N., & Broadbent, E. (2015). Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. American Psychological Association, 34(6), 632-41. doi:10.1037/hea0000146
HANSRAJ, K. K. (2014). Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surgical Technology International, 25, 277-279.
Roberts, J. A., Yaya, L. H., & Manolis, C. (2014). The invisible addiction: Cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3(4), 254-65. doi:10.1556/JBA.3.2014.015
Weiniger, S. (2008). Stand Taller Live Longer – An Anti-Aging Strategy