Tech Neck: Why Your Phone’s a Pain in the Neck

And the shoulders.  And the back.

On average, each of us spends 3¼ hours a day using our mobile devices (not including voice calls), and it’s not hard to find stories of the damage our ‘digital addiction’ is doing, from shorter attention spans to anxiety triggered by the ‘fear of missing out’.

But one of the most common issues is ‘Tech Neck’ – that is, all the neck, back, shoulder and other problems caused by constantly looking down at our phones or hunching over our laptops.

Things like a stiff neck, pain between the shoulders, headaches… plus the various knock-on effects, including poor posture, numbness in the fingers and arms, or even weariness from not breathing in enough oxygen. 

There’s even the ‘smartphone crease’, the name given to the fact that constantly looking down worsens those lines and wrinkles on the front of your neck.

We’re all so used to using our phones for long periods that we probably don’t even notice the effect it’s having.  But – somewhat terrifyingly – research suggests that for every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on your neck muscles.

That’s right, rather than supporting the usual 10 to 12-pound weight of your head, looking down at your phone puts a force on your neck muscles of up to 60 pounds.

If you’re struggling to imagine what 60 pounds feel like, its roughly the weight of an average 8-year-old! For over 3 hours a day!

Over time, that can have a lasting effect on your posture (hunched shoulders, “forward head”), or can wear down the discs in your neck. And if those discs rupture and pinch a nerve, it could mean surgery.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have immediately throw away your phone (or stop reading this post) – a few simple tricks can make a real difference.  Using headphones for calls, using voice commands, even just moving around – it all helps. 

But one of the best things we’ve found is lifting your phone up so that the screen is at eye-level.  This will feel strange, and you might worry you look odd doing it.  But give it a try, and say goodbye to that 8-year-old child on your neck…

Time to stand up for yourself.