Understand and Alleviate ‘Tech Neck’ with These Exercises


Love your smartphone, but it’s giving you neck pain? These tips can help you relieve your pain so you can enjoy your mobile devices.

Mobile devices allow us to look up information and contact anyone, anywhere, at any time. But these modern marvels come with a price — and it’s not just the cost. Spending hours on end on our smartphones, tablets, and laptops may cause a syndrome known as “tech neck.”

And it’s likely many of us are at risk for tech neck syndrome. According to Pew Research, 97 percent of Americans own a cellphone. Read on to find out if you have a tech neck and ways to alleviate it.

What is tech neck?

Think about your posture when you use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You’re leaning forward, right? It’s this forward head tilt that strains your neck and spine, as well as the ligaments and muscles in your upper body. In fact, the more you lean your head forward, the more weight you put on your neck, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the neck that can either be sharp or a dull, constant ache.
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness.
  • Persistent or intermittent headaches.
  • Tingling sensation in the upper limbs.

Tech neck can lead to more serious orthopedic issues, including arthritis, spinal degeneration, compressed discs, and pinched nerves. So, it’s important to be aware of the signs of tech neck and take steps to strengthen your neck and spine to prevent further pain and damage.

Eight exercises to alleviate tech neck

Stretching and strengthening exercises are the best ways to counteract tech neck pain and stiffness. Here are eight to try at home:

Chin tuck. As you sit in a chair in an upright position, tuck in your chin as if you’re making a double chin. Your nose and chin face forward rather than downward. Hold for five seconds, and repeat 30 times.

Scapular restriction. Again, in a seated upright position, tighten the muscles between your shoulder blades and gently move your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds and repeat 30 times.

Pectoralis stretch. Stand in a door frame with one hand placed on the door frame at shoulder height. Lean forward until you feel a stretch along your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times on each side.

Prone cobra stretch. Lie face down on the floor with a towel under your forehead. Bring your shoulders together so your arms raise from the floor. Then, lift your head off the towel about an inch, keeping your head down. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 10 times.

Flexion stretch. Standing, bring your chin to your chest until a slight stretch is felt in the back of the neck. 

Lateral flexion stretch. Lean your ear to your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the side of the neck. 

Shoulder circles. Gently move your shoulders up, back, and down. Repeat several times.

Side-to-side stretches. Look over one shoulder and then slowly move your head to look over the other shoulder. 

How to prevent tech neck

You don’t have to give up your mobile devices to prevent tech neck, but you can take measures to prevent an aching neck and spine with some easy-to-follow tips:

  • Position your device at eye level so you’re not always looking down.
  • Take a break every 15 minutes. Set an alarm on your device to remind you to do so.
  • Shift positions when on your device. For example, lie on your back to give your neck a rest.
  • When seated at your desk, recline your chair at a 25- to 35-degree angle. Relax your neck so it isn’t upright. Make sure you have good lumbar support. This position reduces the stress on your neck muscles and spine.

Stop neck pain now

If these exercises and tips fail to reduce your neck pain, see an orthopedist at New York Bone & Joint Specialists. Our physicians and physical therapists can diagnose your possible tech neck and devise ways to alleviate your discomfort so you can enjoy your tech tools in comfort. Contact us today for a consultation.

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