Fitness · Health

‘Tech Neck,’ Premature Aging, and Poor Posture — A 21st Century Problem

I see it all the time. People with their heads pushed forward and down, staring at their smartphones. We are being changed by technology, and not in a good way. More and more people are coming into doctor’s offices complaining of neck pain or associated shoulder and lower back pain. Often, it stems from their habits of looking down at their mobile phones and computer screens. Health professionals have coined this problem as ‘tech neck.’

Your head is a fairly heavy object, weighing on average anywhere from 10 – 12 lbs. As the position of the head moves forward, the amount of stress placed on the neck muscles increases tremendously, and the rest of the body is forced to compensate. This results in the upper back pushing backward (hunching), and the hips moving forward (slouching). The result is excessive wear and tear on the spine, pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and arms. Essentially, the muscles on the back of your neck are getting over-stretched in this position, which weakens them so that they can no longer hold the head up properly.

In addition to musculoskeletal issues, ‘tech neck’ is also associated with premature aging of the skin of the neck. According to skin experts, “a constant downward gaze also contributes to further lines and creases around the chin and neck area.” The ‘tech-neck’ crease is found mostly in people aged 18 to 39 who have an average of three digital devices and peer at their screens up to 150 times a day – accelerating the impact of gravity and natural loss of the skin’s elasticity. For more mature people, this just adds to the wrinkles we already have – yikes!

Next Page: Four steps to avoid ‘tech neck’ problems.

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  • Susanna Gaertner September 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan, this is one of the things I tell prospective Pilates students.