Are your smart devices becoming a pain in the neck? (literally)

Are your smart devices becoming a pain in the neck? Tech neck is a real thing, health officials...
Are your smart devices becoming a pain in the neck? Tech neck is a real thing, health officials say.
Updated: Apr. 24, 2019 at 7:49 AM CDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - What is tech neck? Dr. Kyle Waltz, D.C. with Charlotte Chiropractic Center says it’s a real thing. The problem starts when we bend our neck forward to look at our smart devices.

“It puts a lot of strain on the spine, adds a lot of tension to the neck, to the upper back, the shoulders,” Dr. Waltz explains.

John Knower, 28, is a patient in Dr. Waltz’s office and can attest, the three to five hours a day he was spending on his smart device was impacting him physically. From headaches, to pain from the shoulders up.

“I would be rubbing a tennis ball against a wall just like Baloo the bear. Just working out some of the stress and kinks that were just building up due to my own posture. I was doing it to myself,” says Knower.

Just think: The weight of your head – looking straight ahead at zero degrees – is 10-12 pounds. Now imagine looking at your phone and bending the neck forward just 15 degrees, you more than doubled the weight of your head to 27 pounds. At 45 degrees, that’s nearly 50 pounds of weight now that’s being supported by your neck muscles, shoulders and upper back.

“You start to move that center of gravity a little bit further forward and now the muscles have to work extra. They have to work hard all day long. They’re having to support that heavy head now and it’s going to cause some pain,” says Dr. Waltz.

So how do you treat tech neck? Dr. Waltz recommended John do neck exercises, limit the time he’s on his smart device and change the way he looks at his smart devices.

“He coached me on keeping my phone in front of me rather than looking down at it. It took about 2 weeks, 3 weeks before I started noticing a huge difference. The headaches started going away, no blurred vision at night and every started getting from the neck up a lot better,” says Knower. “You stand up more straight, you have better posture. The general saying goes, when you feel better you look better.”

Dr. Waltz says over 10 years ago when he first opened his practice patients coming in with tech neck symptoms were in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Now he’s seeing younger patients, sometimes teenagers, with tech neck.

He suggests stretching the neck muscles by doing the three basic planes of motion (look left/right, up/down, tilt side to side).

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