Heads up, people!
Screens are almost as ubiquitous as bacteria, and we’re attracted to them like insects to street lights. With the average American spending an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, some might even go so far as to call screen time the new “smoking” — not only because a “Warning: This Product Is Addictive” label might be appropriate for the latest pocket light box, but because our screen time is negatively affecting our health. We’ve already heard about the link between screen time and mental health, but what about our physical health? Well, beyond making us lazier and more likely to walk out into the middle of a busy street, people are experiencing what experts call “tech neck.”
So what exactly is tech neck? Tech neck is the neck/back pain more and more Americans are reporting due to the extended use of our devices. According to the 2009 National Health Interview Survey, about 15 percent of Americans reported back and neck pain over a three-month period. Meanwhile, other studies state that we’re spending $87.6 billion addressing this pain — three times what was spent two decades ago.
Kenneth K Hansraj, M.D. and chief of spinal surgery at New York Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, says that a modest 15 degree tilt of our head — normally a 12-pound mass — can increase the pressure on our neck to the equivalent of a 27-pound mass. Bending your neck to 60 degrees can emulate closer to 60 pounds.
At 10-plus hours per day, that’s a lot of strain on the neck and spine. So what can you do about it? As you can imagine, things like good posture and strengthening your neck and back muscles can help tremendously. You may also want to find a good chiropractor or seek regular chiropractic care. And don’t forget to get up and take a five-minute device-free walk every hour if your workplace allows.