June 2020 Newsletter

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.


DEFINITION
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.


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
  2. 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).

  3. Go hands-free when possible
  4. Using speakerphone or a headset eliminates the need to hold the phone, and definitely avoid cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder!

  5. Stand it up
  6. Consider use of a tripod or support arm to hold your device for video calls.

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

  9. 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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