June 11, 2018

Tech Neck: Pain From Smartphone & Social Media Use

Are you reading this on your desktop, or on a smartphone or tablet? Tech neck is so named because it’s pain from smartphone and social media use which is excessive. Is there a way back from Tech-neck?

The onward march of new and exciting tech comes with challenges. Not least of which is the stress imparted on our human frame. For those of us owning one, Smartphone use accounts for between 700-1400 hours per year, looking down at the device, and that’s before adding the combined time with computers, laptops and ipads! So if we discount the detriments of smartphone use alone as ‘hype’, the broader picture of tech-neck still stands. If we add car travel and television viewing into the equation… well then it gets scary (My personal favourite tech-neck promoter was last year’s Pokemon phenomenon, as I watched in amazement as people literally ran around the neighbourhood, necks bent, squinting at the iphone)! It all adds up: most people have no idea how long they are really spending in an unhealthy neck position.

Let’s explore your daily routine. It may look something like this:
Breakfast. Commute. Work. Lunch. Work. Commute. Exercise. Relax at home.

Now, how many of those activities include the potential to worsen your tech-neck?
All of them! This is because tech is just too easy to use. It’s social media at breakfast and on the commute, rather than sitting back with a podcast or conversing with other people. Cat videos on the work lunch break instead of getting your 10,000 daily steps out in the street. More social media or laptop use at home. Even at the gym, we often notice people on treadmills looking down at their phones or a small tv screen!

Is all hope lost?

Certainly not. But without some firm personal boundaries, tech-neck has the potential to cause long-term harm to our skeletal frame. Here we list some simple personal rules that will reduce your exposure to tech-neck, and the pain and injury that comes with it.

1. Lunch time is for moving your body.

This is a non-negotiable for the office workers among us. Many of our clients use the feeble protest “But I get up a lot at work, to use the photocopier or walk to meetings!” Well, nice try but incidental movement within the workplace does not count towards your daily exercise. A good brisk walk at lunch does!

2. Batch your social media and leisure smartphone use

Smartphone use is addictive thanks to the way our brains are wired. The only chance many of us have to not check our phones every 8 seconds for a new update, is to put strict time frames in place. As an example, you might choose 8am and 8pm each day for 10 minutes each, to manage your digital life on facebook/instagram. If you use these platforms for your business, obvioulsy there is more time spent here. Facebook has mastered the art of keeping us glued to our phones. It’s their business. Make it yours to say no.

3. Podcast on the commute

A good method is to download a few podcasts a week at home, and if you’re a bus/train commuter, simply press play and sit upright with your headphones in. The added benefit here is you might learn some interesting new things! (We’ve been loving the recent Joe Rogan Podcast with Matthew Walker, about the benefits of sleep. Truly mind-blowing stuff).

4. At the gym, leave the phone in your bag.

Nothing makes me sadder than seeing people using their phone whilst perched on a piece of gym equipment. Not only does it remove your brain’s focus from the workout, it’s creating yet more tech-neck! Leave the phone out of reach for an hour. You’ll be okay.