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Preventing Tech Neck Pain For Your Staff

If your team works regularly on a computer, tablet, mobile device, or performs any actions where they have to regularly and for prolonged periods by tilting their head downwards, they’re at risk of a common workplace problem: tech neck pain.

Tech neck, coined “text neck” in adolescents, describes regularly keeping your neck facing forwards and downwards. Sit down and hold your phone close to your stomach. Now raise it to a comfortable position that you’d normally use to check your smartphone. Do you feel your neck leaning forwards and your head pointing downwards? This is the tech neck position.

What Is Wrong With The Tech Neck Position?

The consequences of chronically maintaining this posture include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, and back pain. This is because the muscles at the back of the neck must work extra hard to hold up the head when it is tilted downwards, compared to staring straight ahead without being pushed forwards. 

  • When your neck is in a straight position with no degrees of forward curvature, your neck muscles only work to support 4.5 – 5.5kgs, which is the weight of your head. 
  • At a 15-degree angle, this increases to 12 kgs
  • At a 30-degree angle, your neck muscles must work hard to support over 18 kgs
  • At 45 degrees? Over 22 kgs
  • Finally, if you’re staring down at 60 degrees, that’s over 27 kgs of force on your neck muscles – which can easily lead to a lot of pain and discomfort – and even time off work – over time.

Image credit to https://healthmatters.nyp.org/

If your team continues to hold their tech neck position over time, the forward positioning of the head and the strain on the neck can lead to muscle tightness, putting more pressure on the intervertebral discs in our neck and spine. This means these discs can wear out faster, or become damaged – like a bulging disc, or even a rupture. If this occurs, it can pinch a nerve, leading to neural symptoms like pins and needles, numbness, weakness, pain – and subsequent stiffness. 

As our muscles get used to the tech neck position, they may also contract and lengthen accordingly, promoting us to stay in this alignment through a reduced range of movement around the neck. With our head leaning forwards, our hips may compensate by tilting forwards as the upper spine shifts backwards. This can throw out our complete vertebral alignment, and result in back pain, other alignment issues, and ultimately, chronic pain.

Preventing And Treating Tech Neck

Both preventing and treating tech neck involves a crucial element: being able to access the right health professionals, like a physiotherapist or an osteopath. They can evaluate any current problems and postural issues with your head and neck, while also evaluating your workstation or the head-tilting movements you perform daily to optimise them and reduce your tech neck risk. Your health professionals can also create recovery plans for those already suffering.

Some tips for prevention include:

  • Keeping digital devices at eye level. You can place some books under your monitor or screen to bring it closer to eye level. There are also a number of holders for all digital devices that can help. When using a smartphone, hold it well. If you need to be looking down, do so with your eyes, instead of your head.
  • Take breaks often. Take 5 minutes every 25 minutes to take a break from the screen, stretch, rest your eyes, and evaluate your posture.
  • Perform exercises throughout your day like chin tucks, trap stretches, or neck mobility exercises. Your physiotherapist can show you how to perform these safely.

Getting Help For Tech Neck

While it’s one thing to encourage employees to seek help for pains that may be interfering with their work and productivity like tech neck, it’s another to be able to manage the costs for treatment – or ideally, prevention before any pain occurs. This is where many savvy businesses have intervened to offer employer aid payments via specific digital health wallets that enable employees’ to take care of health problems including tech neck.

Employer aid is available through the free and secure HealthNow platform, where payments to your employee’s health wallets can be automatically made monthly or at a frequency and dollar value that you choose. Many businesses are choosing to opt for employer aid instead of private health insurance payments, which often come with strict criteria, exclusions, pre-existing condition limitations, and that rolls over and is ‘lost’ if it’s not used within a calendar year.

With HealthNow’s employer aid payments, the funds you contribute can only be spent on health and medical services and products registered with the HealthNow platform, allowing your team to access the care they need, when they need it – and before ongoing pain or problems impact their work performance. 

HealthNow provides updates on your impact to help you measure the value of employer aid within your company. Your contributions are not subject to the Fringe Benefits Tax, are free for your employees to use (they even get a free $10 credit with their free sign-up), and HealthNow has an ever-growing trusted network of medical providers to keep your staff healthy and happy.

To get started, register your company’s interest via this contact form and a HealthNow team member will get back to you promptly.

 

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