Almost everyone owns a mobile phone and/or tablet. While these devices make it easy to work online or make phone calls, their compact size also increases the risk of neck and shoulder pain as well as discomfort in other parts of the upper body. Buzz terms such as “tech neck” describe the physical symptoms that come with overuse of these devices. While massages may provide soothing temporary relief, the symptoms and possible long-term injuries will develop if the root cause is not controlled or eliminated.

Symptoms of tech neck

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Pain and tightness in the shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Tight neck
  • Numbness and tingling in the forearm down to the fingers

Tech neck usually results from performing activities with the neck in flexion—the neck bent forward for a long period of time while looking at an object such as a cell phone.

A computer monitor should be set up in a position where the top of the monitor is at or slightly below eye level in order to promote a healthy, neutral posture. Take the same approach with your mobile device.

How to avoid tech neck

Using your phone or tablet at or slightly below eye level not only keeps your head in a neutral posture, it does so without putting pressure on the cerivcal spine. Other steps to take include:

  • Keep your elbows close to your body to minimize fatigue to your arms.
  • Avoid texting or using the internet while walking. Instead, find a spot to sit down while using your device.
  • If you’re at a desk, consider putting the device on a stand, keeping your device at or slightly below eye level, as referenced above.
  • Take breaks from the phone or tablet. Stretch your neck and other affected muscles.

If pain persists, you may need to seek medical attention.

Mobile devices have made it easier to get in touch with people and get work done. Take steps now to avoid tech neck so that you can enjoy the benefits of mobile devices without the risk of injury.