Dr. Amelia Fratnik, DC

So this pandemic situation has created another boom in patients complaining of pain in their neck, shoulders and upper back in particular due to the increased use of technology devices or laptop computers while isolating, studying, or working from home.  This doesn’t mean that you or your family members necessarily need a new ergonomic desk at home.  It does necessitate a look at how you use your device and how you may improve your set up.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the postural strain from “tech-neck”:

1)      Take frequent breaks.   Ideally you should get up and move around for at least 30 seconds every 20 minutes of sitting.

2)      Stretching.  Stop periodically and perform some simple stretches for your neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists.

3)      Sit tall.  Whether you choose to rest on a couch, sit at the kitchen table, or on an ergonomic desk chair, you should ensure that your back and buttocks are supported completely by the back of the chair.  If it is the couch, make sure that you place a small cushion at your waist to support your low back.

4)      Device height.  What we mean by this is have your device at the proper level so that you do not tend to drop your head forward and flex your neck and upper back.  If at a table or desk, ensure that you do not have to reach up to use your device.  If you are using a smaller device like a phone or a tablet, place your elbows on the table or desk and hold the device up level to your chin.  If you are seated on the couch or favourite chair, place multiple cushions to rest your elbows or forearms while holding your device or to place your laptop on top of.

5)      Posture check.  Every so often make sure that you are holding your head back and not allowing it to shift forward as this may indicate to you that the font on your device is too small or its time for an eye check up!

It’s an era of personal technology devices and there exist certain accommodations that we need to consider so that we prevent strain to our very important spine.  Keep it healthy and keep well!