What is Tech-Neck?
Meet Lisa. As an Office Manager, Lisa spends many hours in front of her computer screen. She also spends some of her down-time browsing on her phone, or watching her favourite TV shows and movies on Netflix.
As a result of all of this screen-time, Lisa complains of muscular pain in her shoulders, upper back and her neck, and she even suffers from occasional headaches (more on headaches soon). Lisa suffers from what we like to call Tech-Neck; that is spending too much time in a stationary posture/position due to her excessive use of technology.
Does this sound like you or anyone you know?
Why does it hurt after being in one position for too long?
Office workers can spend as much as 75% of their day sitting in front of their screens. It is thought that spending too much time in one position causes fatigue of your postural muscles, and limits blood flow to the muscles. This means your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright and in doing-so increases the onset of fatigue. It has been shown that workers with poor sitting posture tend to suffer more severe neck pain (Nejati et al 215)
What can be done to prevent Tech-Neck?
STOP reading this article for 10 seconds.
Have a break from your screen, get up and walk around! Do this regularly throughout the day where you can.
It has been shown that a reduction in sitting and taking regular breaks can improve recovery from neck and upper limb complaints. (van den Heuvel et al 2003)
Perform regular exercise throughout the week.
A study by Kim et al in 2015 had participants perform 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week for 8 weeks which reduced pain levels in the shoulders, middle and lower back.
Make sure your workstation is set-up to suit your body size and shape
It has been found that having a computer monitor directly in front of you in the correct position and maintaining a relatively warm office environment can minimise the impact of neck and low back pain in office workers (Ye et al 2017)
Deep neck flexor strengthening and neck stretching exercises
A regular stretching exercise program has been shown to reduce neck and shoulder pain in office workers with chronic moderate-to-severe neck or shoulder pain (Tunwattanapong et al 2016). Furthermore a relationship has been established between neck pain intensity and the function of the deep cervical neck flexor muscles (under your chin and at the front of your neck) and neck pain.
Deep Neck Flexor and Neck Stretching Exercises
We'll let Lisa take it from here and demonstrate to you some examples of neck exercises to keep you Tech-Neck free! Just remember to make sure these are done pain-free, and if you are having any difficulty or concerns, get in touch with a health professional.
Gently tilt one ear to your shoulder
Add a slight pressure with your hand until a comfortable stretch is felt
Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeating 3-4 times a day.
Place one finger on your chin and apply a gentle pressure, making a double chin
As you do this make sure your head and neck stay tall and keep looking straight
Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets per day
Chin Tuck Progression
Prop up on your elbows, shoulder-width apart, making sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows
Keep your eyes looking between your thumbs, and draw the base of your head up towards the ceiling, making a double chin
Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat for 10-15 repetitions for 3 sets per day
If you have found this useful, or if you know anyone who suffers from neck pain, feel free to share this information.
For more information about neck pain, exercises, ergonomic/workplace assessments or about muscular pain in general, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we discuss headaches!! Until then keep moving and stay pain-free!!
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Physio,
Falla D1, O'Leary S, Farina D, Jull G. (2011). Association between intensity of pain and impairment in onset and activation of the deep cervical flexors in patients with persistent neck pain. Clin J Pain. May;27(4):309-14. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31820212cf.
Heuvel SG, de Looze MP, Hildebrandt VH, Thé KH. Scand J (2003) Effects of software programs stimulating regular breaks and exercises on work-related neck and upper-limb disorders. Work Environ Health. Apr;29(2):106-16.
Kim DJ, Cho ML, Park YH, Yang YA (2015). Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Jun; 27(6): 1791–179 Published online 2015 Jun 30. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.179 PMCID: PMC4499985 PMID: 26180322
Nejati P, Lotfian S, Moezy A, Nejati M (2015). The study of correlation between forward head posture and neck pain in Iranian office workers. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2015;28(2):295-303. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.00352.
Restaino RM, Holwerda SW, Credeur DP, Fadel PJ, Padilla J (2015). Impact of Prolonged Sitting on Lower and Upper Limb Micro- and Macrovascular Dilator Function. Exp Physiol. 2015 Jul 1; 100(7): 829–838. Published online 2015 Jun 10. doi: 10.1113/EP085238 PMCID: PMC4956484 NIHMSID: NIHMS803142 PMID: 25929229
Sunyue Ye, Qinglei Jing, Chen Wei, and Jie Lu (2017) Risk factors of non-specific neck pain and low back pain in computer-using office workers in China: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2017; 7(4): e014914. Published online 2017 Apr 11. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014914 PMCID: PMC5594207 PMID: 28404613
Tunwattanapong P, Kongkasuwan R, Kuptniratsaikul V (2016). The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. Jan;30(1):64-72. doi: 10.1177/0269215515575747. Epub 2015 Mar 16.