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  • Writer's pictureToronto Integrative Medicine Centre

"Tech Neck": How to Combat the Negative Effects of Staring at Screens

Hey, have you been in front of your screens already for hours? Is your body posture slouching now? 

Maybe you have noticed that, when you are operating your electronic devices, especially laptops and smartphones, you tend to hunch your thoracic spine and forward your neck after a while. Once the work has finished by the end of the day, your neck starts to ache and pinchy. Do you know this situation is called forward head posture (FHP)? It triggers repetitive muscle restrain after prolonged screen time. FHP is also referred to as “Tech Neck” .

If you have the symptoms like: constant ache pain in neck, shoulder discomfort radiating into shoulder and upper back, tension in the skull, reduced mobility around neck, you might be affected by “Tech Neck”. Our neck supports the head upward and connects the shoulders, upper arms, and entire back downward, once it is pulled, the surrounding muscles will be affected. Sometimes, it may also cause lower back pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the neck is one of the most vital, but also vulnerable, parts of our body; it has to hold 10% of our entire weight, the head. There are five Yang meridians that pass through the back of the neck and shoulders.They are the Governor Meridian, the Small Intestine Meridian, the Bladder Meridian, and the Gallbladder Meridian, and the Triple Burner Meridian. Whereas, the stomach Meridian passes through the front of the neck. Among those, except Small Intestine and Triple Burner Meridian, the rest of the Meridians all pass through the hip, waist and knee areas. However, When you feel pain on your lower part of the body, normally a TCM doctor or an acupuncturist will exam your upper body as well, especially the neck and shoulder to see if there are any blockages. If the meridians are blocked, not only the qi and blood flow in the channels are affected, but also the related organ function will be disturbed as well.

How to manage  “Tech Neck”?

  1. Design an user-friendly environment when using electronic devices. Ensure your computer screen is at eye level. This reduces the need to bend your neck. Use a chair that supports your lower back and allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Frequent taking breaks: get up, move around, and stretch your neck and shoulders. Try 20/20 rules. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This helps to reset your posture and reduce eye strain.

  3. Choose the right pillow and mattress for sleep: make sure you head, shoulder and back are aligned.

  4. Mindful movement: be aware of your posture throughout the day, adjust your posture if it does not feel right.

  5. Visit us for a long-term treatment plan: regular massages and acupuncture can reduce muscle tension.

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