The next global health epidemic is here – it’s called tech neck!
It’s fair to say that we’re a nation addicted to our smartphones. And there are harrowing statistics to back this up.
A report* released in November last year revealed that the average person spends around 76,500 hours over the course of their lifetime looking at their smartphone. This equates to approximately 9 years of your life on your phone – and around three hours each day.
“Which is pretty shocking when you put it that way”, Osteopath Denise Callaghan says. “But it makes sense as we are never too far away from our smartphones.
“Many of us are still working from home and staring at screens which may not be at the right height. We’re checking emails on the go and catching up with friends and family over video calls. Digital technology has helped keep us connected this past year.
“But all this screen time has also provided us with the next health epidemic – tech neck.”
What is tech neck?
Tech neck is the act of stressing muscles while using phones, tablets, and computers, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness.
It occurs when you pitch your head forward, your shoulders are rounded and your back is slumped.
“It’s not a new problem,” Denise says. “But I’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of clients complaining about neck, shoulder and lower back pain since we’ve all been working from home.”
What problems does tech neck cause?
When you pitch your head forward, your neck has to carry the weight. And overtime, all that extra weight and strain adds up.
“When your head is tilted forward and down whilst looking at your laptop or smartphone, it causes the muscle and tendon at the front of your neck to tighten. Whilst the structures at the back of your neck are lengthened.
“It puts unnecessary pressure on your neck, shoulders and subsequently your back. And this is exacerbated when you do this for hours each day.”
Exercises for tech neck
The easiest way to rid tech neck is to ditch your mobile device, or lower your screen time. But that’s easier said than done! Instead, you can practise good exercise habits and perfect your posture. This includes:
- Use your phone at eye-level rather than hanging your head down to look at your screen
- Tuck your chin in gently when using your smart phone
- Relax your shoulders whist using any type of screen
- Take frequent breaks from your screen or smart phone
- Stand up straight whilst using your mobile device
- Gently twist and turn your neck
How osteopathy can help with tech neck
In some cases, exercises might only help to stop the problem from getting any worse. Denise has more than 20 years’ experience in her field. Over this time she has worked with numerous clients who have suffered the perils of this 21st century phenomenon.
She has a range of tools at her disposal including manipulation, ultrasound, electrotherapy, soft tissue work and a spinulator.
Denise says: “The manipulation of locked joints helps to free the neck and results in improving the range of movement. This in turn solves the dreaded problem of neck pain.”
Whilst the use of electrotherapy and ultrasound, work in a different way.
Denise says: “These techniques can reduce inflammation therefore reducing the stiffness of joints, decreasing muscle spasm and an improving blood and lymph supply.”
Osteopathy has been proven to work
According to a study** conducted by The International Journal for Osteopathic Medicine, people with neck pain found that after a course of Osteopathic treatment, they felt ‘significantly less pain in the neck area’ and reductions were evident regardless of the ‘chronicity of the pain’.
Patients also found that they had better flexibility in their necks. The official study drew the conclusion that Osteopathic treatment is likely to be effective for the management of neck pain.
If you are suffering from neck pain, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. During this lockdown, Osteopaths are considered key workers so are still able to operate safely in a covid-secure environment.