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How Using Computers and Smartphones Can Affect Neck and Spine Health

How Using Computers and Smartphones Can Affect Neck and Spine Health

Sometimes it’s called "tech neck," sometimes "text neck." It's the stiffness and pain that can come from staring down at a smartphone or laptop for hours on end each day.

When your head is in a neutral position, looking straight ahead, the muscles in your neck are holding up about 10-12 pounds. Shift your neck down to about a 45-degree angle, and you're requiring those muscles to hold the equivalent of about 50 pounds. The burden on your neck grows the farther forward your neck is tilted.

Over time, this posture can lead to stretched-out upper back muscles and weaker muscles in the front of your body. Chronically holding this bent-forward position can eventually stress the discs in your neck and spine, which may lead to ruptured discs and long-term damage and nerve pain. This posture can also limit your ability to take deep breaths.

Neck pain affects about 75% of people at some point in their lives and is the fourth leading cause of disability globally, so it's important to address it early before it progresses to a chronic condition.

You’re probably not in a position to give up your phone or computer, but you can try to adjust your posture while using them. Here are a few tips: 

  • Set up your computer workstation so that your eyes are even with your screen, your shoulders are relaxed, and your wrists are straight.
  • When using your phone, hold it so that your eyes are even with the screen and you’re not cramping your neck to look down at it all the time. A phone or tablet holder may be useful.
  • Instead of bending your entire head to see the screen on your device, just look down with your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks to get up, stretch, and walk around. Do neck and shoulder rolls to reduce tension.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise to keep your blood circulating.
  • Attend yoga classes to help keep your neck and back flexible. Good yoga poses for the neck and spine include downward dog, bow pose, cobra, and bird dog. 

For more information on neck and back pains, or to make an appointment with the doctors at NeuroMicroSpine, please call (850) 934-7545 or click here to request an appointment. We hope to see you soon!

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.