Whilst perusing the interwebs today I came across an article talking about “Tech Neck” and what you can do about it. This article stood out to me because I’m basically a poster child for Tech Neck and have many strategies for combating it.
What is “Tech Neck”? It’s neck pain, caused by poor posture. This doesn’t necessarily have to be tech-related, but is increasingly becoming a tech-related problem. Sure, you could get tech neck by constantly having bad posture while you eat, or read a book, or do the dishes, but using computers, phones and tablets is probably the biggest contributor to neck/back/shoulder pains.
I’m 6’4″ and that means that I’m just naturally going to have neck and back problems. Us tall people find ourselves hunching over more than the average person. Washing the dishes might be perfectly fine for somebody who’s 5’9″ but for a 6′ plus person, it’s painful.
This problem carries over into computer usage in a big way, especially laptop computers. It doesn’t take long for me, working on a laptop without any kind of stand underneath it to develop neck/back pain. Same with a desktop computer with a low sitting monitor.
Smartphones pose a similar problem, as most of the time you are hunched over with your head tilted down while looking at your phone. According to this random link I found on Google, we spend an average of 4 hours a day looking at our phone. That’s a significant amount of time every day spent using poor posture.
So what can you do about it? Well the article I mentioned was pretty vague about that. Basically, “do some stretches”. I have a few more specific tips I’d like to share.
Monitor stands, monitor stands, monitor stands. I have found after extensive experimentation that it’s best for me if what I’m looking at is direction level with my eyes. Meaning, I don’t have to crane my neck up, or down. I used to think the higher the better, but I found that having my head slightly tilted upwards was hurting my neck/back just as much as tilting it downwards. So find a good monitor stand and use it. Find a nice portable one that you can throw your laptop on if you’re going to the coffee shop or working remotely somewhere. Laptop computers sit even lower than the average desktop monitor and can be even more problematic.
Bedtime gadget use. I find myself using the worst posture while in bed. I’ll be sitting up mostly, but also kind of leaning back, and I’ll have my laptop in my lap. Which means my chin is basically touching my chest the entire time. I found a foldable tray that I can put my laptop on and even raises up and can put my laptop screen almost parallel with my face. I also like to switch my position every 10 minutes or so, from sitting up looking down at my computer, to laying down on my stomach looking up a bit.
Also stretches help. Look around alot, stand up fairly frequently. Try to be conscience of your posture. generally I think it’s best to sit up straight, maybe puffing your chest out just a touch.
Chair height I think matters, although I haven’t been able to come to any real conclusions, but it’s something to think about. Apart from being one way to make your monitor level with your head, it also determines the angle at which your arms spend most of their time. I haven’t found a position that I prefer yet but it might be something to consider.
Screen resolution. If you’re finding yourself leaning forward and squinting a lot, consider changing the resolution on your screen, or increasing the font size of your web browser.
Well there you have it, James’ Guide to Fight Tech Neck.
If you have any more suggestions, leave them in the comments below and help your fellow tech nerds out.