Tech neck is usually caused from too much time looking down at your mobile phone, your iPad, or your computer. Over time, the repetitive stress of constantly looking down with your head shifting out in front of your chest increases the weight of your head biomechanically. Not only has the weight of your head increased, but when you are looking down, it is going to pull your neck out of alignment. Slowly but surely, you can develop a lack of curve in your neck, which is technically tech neck.
Tech neck can be corrected. There is a lot that goes into how to correct it. Let’s assume your upper to mid back and your low back are within normal limits and the only shift you have is from the lateral side where your top bone shifted in front of your bottom bone, your ear is in front of your chest, and you’ve lost the curve. If you don’t have degenerative changes and you don’t have any other contraindications, then your neck should be able to be corrected.
The process of correcting tech neck starts with finding a chiropractor practicing the technique called chiropractic biophysics. It’s the most researched form of chiropractic. It’s all science and data. It involves a biomechanical assessment of your spine. When you see a chiropractor who is qualified with chiropractic biophysics, they’ll take you through the consultation and exam, and they will shoot x-rays. Based on those x-rays, they will analyze the shift in your spine, but not just your neck, the rest of your spine and you’ll go through a course of corrective care.
Corrective care needs to be at least 30 minutes long. So, it’s going to be 3 times a week for 10 weeks or 4 times a week for 8 weeks. You will go through what we call the eat process: exercise, adjustment, and traction. You need to focus on the soft tissue to break down adhesion, which is scar tissue within the tissue and the joint. You need to go through mobility work to increase the mobility within the spine. You need to address any postural changes that occur. For example, your left shoulder is higher than your right shoulder, and that’s pulling your neck to the left. That needs to be addressed and you need to be adjusted based on those x-ray findings. Any joints that are out of alignment and are not moving well need to be addressed. Then you need to do spinal traction, which is what separates chiropractic biophysics from traditional, more normal chiropractic. That is how you can objectively change the shape of the spine, which is awesome because objective change creates long-term improvement.
Research has proven that people who go through corrective care with the traction, always do better on their follow-ups 3 months to a year later than people who did the same adjustments, the same rehab but didn’t do the traction. That is how we treat our patients who have poor posture, and tech neck so they feel and function far better.
There are some ways you can try to avoid getting tech neck in the first place. If you are sitting or standing and you’re looking at your phone or your tablet or your keyboard, you want to make sure that your chin is four fingers off your chest. We can all do it, take your hand, separate your thumb from your fingers, put your little finger on your sternum, and then bring your chin down to hit the top of that finger. That’s the maximum amount of flection looking forward that we should allow in our neck. So, if you’re reading a book in bed or you’re at home scrolling on Instagram, or you’re at your work and you’re looking down during your work, this is a little cheat code to follow.
By keeping a space of four fingers between your chin and your chest, that should keep your head out of flection and that should assist with you essentially not getting tech neck. But also, you should just practice good ergonomics. Make sure you get a sit-stand desk for sitting and standing, make sure you are sitting properly, make sure you take your postural breaks in your workday. These actions ensure those little muscles that keep the spine in alignment are working.
If you practice good economics, keep your chin off the chest, and take those postural breaks, you should be in good shape.