Walk through a restaurant, go to a mall, look around at meetings and you’ll quickly notice how some people are more in touch with their digital life than their waking life. Caught up in today’s constant information stream and social networking buzz, people of all ages routinely go head down while staring into a screen. The emergence of text messaging, social media, iPods, smartphones, tablets—you name it—has beckoned a generation of tech obsessives who bury their heads in a digital world.
Having the latest gadgets may make us feel good but they are apparently giving us a “tech neck.” In an age of constantly looking down to our hand-held screens, a new sign of aging is emerging.
Clinicians are now noticing that this constant head-down posture is creating creases that ring around patient’s necks. This new skin furrow has become the modern sign of aging. The wrinkles, first observed during patient visits for neck treatments, are the new mark signifying tech-obsessive behavior.
How can you help slow this process down? Put your mobile device down. If that doesn’t work, try these tips from Dr. Jeff Manning at Manning Wellness Clinic:
• Limit the amount of time and frequency that you use your device. If you have to use it for an extended period of time, take breaks. Rule of thumb: Take a 5-minute break for every 15 minutes you use your device, and don’t type for more than 3 minutes straight. Get up and walk around to stretch your muscles. One simple exercise is to tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder) then to the other side, back to neutral, turn to look all the way to the right, then left. Back to neutral, then lean head back and back to neutral. Do all without raising shoulders. Don’t stretch forward…this only accentuates the poor posture your trying to avoid. Do it slowly, without straining. Repeat.
• Be aware of your posture. Pay attention to how you hold your device. Try to keep your wrists straight and upright. Loosen your grip when possible. Alternate the fingers you use to type; if you most often use your thumbs, try to switch to your index finger as it allows you to keep the hands more relaxed.
• Use a tablet holder: There are many on the market, but all have the common goal of securing the tablet at a height that is designed to reduce your need to keep your head bent down and forward. Keeping your device at eye-level will help to reduce neck pain and possible damage. It can also prevent “tech-neck” or head-forward posture.