Empowering the Freelance Economy

What is tech neck and what to do if you have it?

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A recent study revealed a worrying trend: searches for “tech neck” have skyrocketed to their highest point ever, increasing a staggering 245% since 2004. This isn’t surprising, considering the long hours freelancers often spend hunched over laptops, tablets, and smartphones

What exactly is tech neck, and how can you avoid it?

Tech neck is a type of neck pain caused by prolonged poor posture, particularly when looking down at devices for extended periods. This can lead to:

  • Immediate pain, stiffness, and discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Lower back pain
  • Herniated discs in severe cases

Combating tech neck:

Here are some simple changes you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent tech neck and alleviate existing pain:

  • Position your devices at eye level: This reduces the need to tilt your head downward, straining your neck muscles.
  • Maintain proper screen distance: Keep your screen 20-30 inches away from your eyes to prevent eye strain and neck discomfort.
  • Download a posture reminder app: Gentle nudges to adjust your posture throughout the day can make a big difference.
  • Take frequent breaks: Every 30 minutes, get up and move around for a few minutes to break up prolonged sitting.
  • Stretch regularly: Incorporate neck stretches and exercises into your day to improve flexibility and relieve tension.

Bonus tips for a pain-free work life:

  • Invest in an ergonomic setup: Consider an adjustable chair, keyboard, and mouse to maintain good posture while working. See some options below.
  • Explore standing desks: Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day can help prevent muscle fatigue and discomfort.
  • Mind your sleep position: Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can help align your spine and alleviate back pain.

Products that can help alleviate tech neck

Laptop Stands:

  • Adjustable Laptop Stand: This is a versatile option that allows you to adjust the height and angle of your laptop to promote better posture. Many adjustable stands are foldable and portable, making them convenient for use at home or in the office. Prices typically range from £10 to £50.
  • Ventilated Laptop Stand: This type of stand helps to improve airflow around your laptop, which can help to prevent it from overheating. They are often made from metal or mesh and can be angled slightly to improve posture. Prices typically range from £15 to £30.

Standing Desks:

  • Manual Standing Desk: This type of desk allows you to adjust the height of the work surface manually, typically with a crank or lever mechanism. They are a more affordable option than electric standing desks, but can be more difficult to adjust throughout the day. Prices typically range from £100 to £300.
  • Electric Standing Desk: This type of desk allows you to adjust the height of the work surface electronically, with a simple button press. They are more expensive than manual standing desks, but are more convenient to use. Prices typically range from £300 to £1000+

Other Products:

  • Lumbar Support Pillow: This type of pillow can help to improve your posture by supporting your lower back while you are sitting. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be placed on your chair or in the small of your back. Prices typically range from £10 to £30.
  • Wrist Rests: These can help to reduce strain on your wrists while you are typing or using a mouse. They are available in a variety of materials, including gel and memory foam. Prices typically range from £5 to £20.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for alleviating tech neck. The best product for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It is also important to take regular breaks from using electronic devices and to stretch your neck and shoulders throughout the day.

If your neck pain persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Orthopaedic surgeons can help diagnose if arthritis has started in your cervical spine and neck. The average call for action then is injections to bring down the inflammation, but that is not a sure thing. Then there is the option of surgery for herniated discs, but that too comes with risks.

Could your tech neck also be caused by bad gut health?

In addition to following some of the tips suggested in this article, bringing your overall level of inflammation down throughout your body could help alleviate the level of pain you are experiencing. This calls for diet changes and a drop in cortisol (the stress hormone). It could also equally call for a pillow that ensures your cervical spin is not bent at an angle for hours while sleeping.

You may find that your tech neck gets worse after driving, so ensure your headrest is being used properly. Take time every day to take care of your neck. This could mean doing gentle neck rolls before you get out of bed. Take breaks throughout the day to get blood flow to your neck with gentle exercise, self-massage and some heat (heating pad, water bottle). You may also find that saunas can help relax interconnected muscles that run from your neck to your brain stem, your spine, shoulders and upper back.

To learn more about bringing your inflammation down, start following certified nutritionists and practitioners, like freelancer-turned-founder Yalda Alaoui @eatburnsleep Her video below explains her personal journey of inflammation and how she went from working in investment banking to nutrition when traditional medicines were making her feel worse, not better. Her business has grown considerably since this video was recorded and she has a large following on Instagram as well as Facebook. She has also launched a podcast that integrates her health philosophy with other health and beauty experts.

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