How Chiropractic Can Help Kids Facing the Perils of Technology
By Sara Butler
Kids these days know a lot about technology. They typically know so much that they’re often the go-to tech experts in the household who parents can turn to when something isn’t right with the Wi-Fi or your Zoom meeting goes awry. Although it’s great to watch children flourish with the technology available today, there are some drawbacks to being so connected.
In the new digital world, smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices are never out of reach. It’s also not uncommon for people, including kids and teens, to spend hours on these devices each day. All that screen time is bound to catch up with even young, healthy bodies, and there’s a name for what it does: tech neck.
As parents, you want your children to be healthy and happy. At The Joint Chiropractic, we pride ourselves in being partners in your family’s health. That’s why we want to bring attention to the way technology is impacting your kids and help you find some ways to fight back and keep your family healthy.
Tech Neck: What Is It?
For those who spend long hours sitting at a desk or a computer, it’s common to experience tension and pain in the muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders. Kids and teens may not have the work responsibilities adults do, but that doesn’t make them immune from the pain and physical stress that all that time on devices can bring -- and pain that is now known as tech neck.
Tech neck is the result of spending prolonged periods with the neck and head extended too far forward. It disrupts the natural curvature of the neck and the muscles have to contract to hold the head, putting repetitive strain on the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. This can result in symptoms such as:
- Spasms in the muscles of the neck
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain in the space between the shoulder blades
- Numb or tingling thumbs
- Blurry vision
When you think about the fact that the average teen spends nine hours per day in front of screens, then you can see how tech neck is a growing problem in that age group.
What Can Be Done About Tech Neck?
If you don’t do something about tech neck, then eventually more serious problems can develop, such as slipped discs in the neck or upper back, or increased wear on the vertebral discs that will lead to pain. You can take steps to help reduce tech neck, such as sitting correctly and setting up workstations ergonomically. You may also want to try to encourage your child to:
- Hold their smartphone or other device at eye level when reading
- Using their eyes to look down instead of tilting their head
- Taking frequent breaks from use of technology
There are also several stretches that are easy for anyone to do to help fight back against tech neck, such as:
- Cat stretch - This yoga pose is relatively easy to do and helps to stretch the muscles that support the neck. All you need to do is get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, making sure the knees are right below your hips and your hands are lined up with the shoulders. Then, round the spine toward the ceiling and let your head drop down toward the floor. Hold for several seconds, then slowly come back to the starting position.
- Neck rolls - This is an easy stretch you can do from anywhere. Simply start with your head in a normal position facing forward, then roll it slowly to one side toward the shoulder. Next, slowly come back to the center and then roll the other direction and come back to the center slowly.
- Neck flexion stretch - This is another stretch that can be done anywhere. Simply sit with your shoulders back as you bring your chin toward your chest, slowly bending the neck forward. You will feel a stretch in the back of your neck as you hold it for anywhere between 15 and 30 seconds at a time.
Doing these stretches a few times per day can really help to keep the neck muscles loose and keep pain from tech neck at bay. Share these stretches with your kids so they have some tools to help stave off the pain and discomfort of living with tech, but remind them that prevention is best of all.
Chiropractic Care for Tech Neck
Another tool in your tech neck arsenal is chiropractic care!
Chiropractors consider tech neck to be a physical trauma to the body due to the position of the head and how it pulls at the spine, causing joint dysfunctions that can lead to pain and discomfort. When you see a chiropractor regularly, the doctor can identify these joint dysfunctions and treat them with hands-on chiropractic adjustments to help treat the dysfunctions.
The chiropractors at The Joint are also a great resource for questions you may have about setting up your or your teen’s workstation to help avoid tech neck; they can also provide some good ways to be more mindful of your posture while working on devices in your home.
Technology is great and has definitely made life a whole lot easier for everyone, including your kids, but it comes at a cost. If you aren’t mindful of the ways you and your family are using technology, then it can result in physical issues such as tech neck, so make sure you’re taking steps to keep problems like this at bay for your family’s health and happiness.
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