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Six Physioblog

Tech-niques to combat tech neck

Nov 26th, 2014 / Nicki Chick

Tech-neck is a real problem among the young and could lead to long-term neck and spinal injuries, Matt talks to Phoebe Luckhurst at the Evening Standard & explains why and how to prevent. 26th November 2014

LOOK UP. Straighten your head. Hear that creak? That’s your tech neck protesting. It’s a new
ailment, triggered by the smartphone and identified by American doctor and chief of spine surgery
at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, Kenneth Hansraj. According to Hansraj’s
research, when the head is held at a 60-degree angle, the spine feels the weight of the head as five
times its actual mass.

And it’s causing real problems.

Hansraj explains it’s a real problem among the young and could lead to long-term neck and spinal
injuries. Another likely effect is jowly wrinkles — making you look prematurely aged.

“The issue is that most people don’t just let their neck hang forward, because the immediate stretch
sensation makes us change our head on neck position,” explains Matt Todman, clinic director at Six
Physio. “Try sustained looking down for 30 seconds and you’ll want to move. Instead, people ‘prop’
their elbows either on their tummy or waist, to pull the phone away from their bodies and to get the
focal distance to where they need it. They then poke their chin out to get the screen in front of the
eyes.

“Poking out the chin is the problem,” he continues. “The head is heavy in relation to the muscles that
support it so this position irritates and stretches the front portion of the cervical spinal discs in the
neck and causes pain in traps and down the inside of your shoulder blades. People will also feel
stiffness and knots in their neck and back muscles.”

How can you prevent it? First up, simply hold your phone higher (also minimising the chance of
walking into a lamppost or other human being) — Todman advises working on “thoracic mobility”,
lifting your chest, and he also suggests keeping your chin in and centred in the middle. Other advice
includes adjusting your position regularly when using a device.

If you do get neck pain, Todman suggests “gentle neck rotations while lying with your head
supported comfortably, or lying on a rolled towel between the shoulder blades with pillow support
for the head”.

So hold your head up high — your looks depend on it.

When the head is held at a 60-degree angle, the spine feels the weight of the head as five times its
actual mass

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