Woman with tech neck a modern musculoskeletal disorder injury

Tech Neck – Modern Day MSD Injury

Have you heard the term tech neck? Although not an official medical diagnosis, it is an increasingly popular term used for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the neck and upper back believed to be associated with poor postures and prolonged use of mobile devices. And some health professions predict it is on the rise.

Tech Neck: overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a forward and downward position at any hand held mobile device, i.e., mobile phone, video game unit, computer, mp3 player, e-reader.

Woman looking down at tablet and developing tech neck a modern musculoskeletal disorder injury

Looking down at our devices forces our spine out of neutral. With the head no longer aligned over top of the spine, there is an increased amount of force applied to the neck’s musculature/soft tissues to support the head in this bent forward position. A 2014 study in the journal Surgical Technology International found that bending your head to look down at your mobile device can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine! Pair that with several hours of use in a day, and you’ve got a recipe for chronic injury.

Here are 5 ways to reduce the risk for this type of injury:

1. Limit time on your device

The CSA Office Ergonomics Standard actually states that static postures to view or input on a mobile phone or tablet shall be limited to short durations (and specifically mentions that static postures when using a tablet should be limited to 10 minutes or less).

2. Go hands-free when possible

Using speakerphone or a headset eliminates the need to hold the phone, and definitely avoid cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder!

3. Stand it up

Consider use of a tripod or support arm to hold your device for video calls.

4. Get efficient

Trying to limit your time? Get more efficient: Limit keystrokes by using predictive text, voice-to-text, text shortcuts, etc.

5. Stretch and take breaks

The body is designed to move! Avoid holding the same posture for prolonged periods of time. Stand up, give your muscles a stretch and get the blood circulating to keep your body pain free.

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