“Tech Neck”, also referred to as “text neck,” is the term often used to describe the negative change in head and neck posture that slowly develops over time due to our increasingly consistent use of technology. Looking down at our phones, tablets, and computers, or slouching and watching TV for extended periods of time are all contributing factors to developing Tech Neck.
But, Tech Neck isn’t only caused by the use of technology. Repeatedly looking down at a book or newspaper, or sitting slouched at a work desk for a long time (like many of us do!) will also contribute to the onset of “tech” neck. Sleeping posture is another contributing factor. Many have a poor sleeping posture that may include too large of a pillow or too many pillows under their head, bending their head and neck forward all night. Even psychological and/or social reasons may be contributing factors, such as someone who stands slouched because they are unusually tall or lack self-confidence. So, “Tech Neck” is really just a new way of describing a very old musculoskeletal phenomenon (albeit an increasingly occurring phenomenon since the rapid onset of hand-held technological devices) that occurs for a variety of reasons: Forward head posture with a loss, or reversal, of neck curve. So, Tech Neck isn’t just about the neck; it is also about the head and its position relative to the rest of the spine. For every inch that your head posture moves forward, an additional 10 pounds of stress is placed upon your neck and its associated musculature. This is highly relevant, because the further your head posture moves forward, the more likely the rest of your spine and body posture will be altered.
Forward Head Posture and How Your Body Responds
When we are constantly sitting, looking down, or slouching, we allow our head to move further forward than that of an ideal posture. As our head moves forward, we, 1) lose the curve in our neck, or worse, our neck curve reverses, 2) our upper back begins to, “hump” or round, 3) our shoulder blades move outward away from our spine, 4) our shoulder posture becomes forward, and 5) our arms rotate inward from the shoulder all the way to the wrist. The above sequence of postural adaptations often results in neck pain and/or upper back pain, shoulder pain, tension headaches, nerve pain into the shoulders and/or arms, numbness and tingling into the shoulders and/or arms, and can even result in conditions such as golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, or carpal tunnel-like symptoms.
How Altered Posture Causes Symptoms
When your posture changes, your spine and extremities move poorly. The individual bones that make up the joints in your spine and extremities also move poorly. When the many joints in your spine or the joints in your extremities move poorly, it creates dysfunction, which eventually results in pain, tissue destruction, and arthritis. So, the solution and prevention to many joint-related symptoms is proper motion. Proper motion can be achieved through 1) chiropractic care and 2) posture correction.
The main goal of chiropractic care is to restore proper motion to joints. In other words, the goal is to find bones that don’t move well and make them move well. When a joint moves properly, range of motion is restored, surrounding soft tissues (such as spinal discs or ligaments) can stay healthy, muscles can work properly, nerve function at that joint is restored, and the brain is better able to coordinate the motion of that joint. The aforementioned list of positive effects that result from a chiropractic adjustment are all important components to correcting and maintaining posture, and therefore dealing with a condition like Tech Neck.
Maintaining your posture is an involuntary action. It is automatically controlled by your nervous system, sort of like your heart beating or your lungs breathing. We can absolutely alter our posture consciously, but our bodies are designed in a way that only realistically allows us to correct our posture voluntarily for a short period of time. Eventually, we will forget about maintaining our posture and fall back into our old postural habits. This means that our bodies have to be trained over a period of time to correct our posture. In the case of Tech Neck, our bodies have to be trained to hold our head further back, which will improve our neck curve, the curve of our upper back, and our shoulder and arm position. Conversely, as we improve our shoulder and arm position and the curves of our upper back and neck, our head will have a greater opportunity to be positioned further back directly over our shoulders.
How Ollis Chiropractic Addresses Tech Neck
At Ollis Chiropractic, we address posture-related problems such as Tech Neck through chiropractic adjustments and a postural corrective exercise program tailored uniquely for you. Our adjustments are focused on restoring proper motion of the whole spine and extremities. Our postural corrective exercise program is designed to improve your spinal and extremity posture. This is done by addressing specific muscles and other soft tissues, such as spinal discs and ligaments, that are responsible for maintaining your posture. Oftentimes, we also provide you with at-home exercises and stretches that can be performed to improve your posture and symptoms.
If you suffer from Tech Neck or other posture-related symptoms, or if you are simply concerned about your posture, we would love to help. You can email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 502-412-8580. We look forward to hearing from you!