With many people sitting at a computer all day, tech neck has become a common ailment. The condition, also called text neck, is a relatively new term and is characterized by the ongoing neck and upper back pain that comes from straining the head forward to look at a screen. In some people, unchecked tech neck can even turn into a stress injury or muscle strain. People should know how to set up a workstation to prevent tech neck.
Choose the right height
The hallmark of tech neck is craning the neck to look downward at a phone, tablet, or computer screen. Make sure that the workstation places computer screens at eye level. For people who work on a laptop, invest in a screen monitor so that the height can be adjusted.
Buy ergonomic furniture
The way a person sits is just as crucial for tech neck as for preventing back pain. Use a chair that has a headrest to lay the head against the chair while looking at a screen. This position helps people avoid always tilting the head downward. Additionally, find a comfortable chair and sit with both feet firmly on the floor.
Where are your arms?
Besides screen height and chair height, consider desk height. The table or desk where a person is working should be at a height where a person can comfortably rest the elbows without leaning forward. This helps to keep the shoulders relaxed, which can decrease upper back pain.
Vary your schedule
If possible, try not to sit in front of a screen all day, multiple days in a row. Vary the daily schedule with other meetings or regular activity breaks. Just a ten-minute walk or quick stretch can offer significant pain relief.
What else can I do?
Incorporating regular stretching and strengthening exercises can help correct or prevent tech neck. One simple exercise is to perform an exaggerated nod, bringing the head back as far as possible and gazing at the ceiling, then bowing the chin to the chest to stretch the back of the neck. People can also benefit from a regular yoga practice, which incorporates many stretching and strengthening movements.
After work hours
While many people have careers that require sitting in front of a computer, try to limit screen time outside of work hours. While ditching devices altogether might not be an option, aim for decreasing screen time by just 5-10 minutes a day. Over time, this can add up to significant results. For more information about tech neck, speak with a healthcare provider.