Health Watch: Combat tech neck

With the rise in technology comes "tech neck," the act of holding your head flexed in a forward position. Looking at screens can cause stress on your spine. Over long periods of time, this can lead to disc injury, muscle strain, and even arthritic changes of the neck! But there are ways to combat tech neck.

Most people spend an average of two to four hours per day reading and texting on their smartphones. That's up to 1,400 hours a year! If this sounds like you or your teenager, "Monitoring screen time I think is going to become very important," said physical therapist Gina Pongetti.

Besides limiting screen time, try adding exercises into your routine. Begin in a neutral stance with your shoulders pulled down and away from your ears. First, roll your shoulders forward and bend your neck forward. Then over-correct the position by rolling your shoulders back and pointing your head to the ceiling. Second, tuck your chin towards the center of your neck then bring it back up to a neutral stance. Third, raise your arms all the way overhead then bring them down to your sides. Finally, squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you, and then relax. Experts recommend doing at least ten reps of each per day.

"Every five minutes set an alarm until you get into the mode of actually stretching backward or standing up," said Pongetti.

You can also try purchasing a tablet holder to elevate your device, which can significantly reduce neck flexion. Or take it a step further and get yourself a standing desk which can help you burn calories on top of getting rid of that tech neck!
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