What is tech neck? Why more Aussies are prone to bad posture more than ever before


Thousands of Australians are at risk of developing ‘tech neck’ as more spend countless hours scrolling on phones and hunched over computers.

New research commissioned by the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) revealed the pandemic has caused a huge spike in mobile device use, leading to more people developing ‘hunches’ in their necks and backs.

The term ‘tech neck’ refers to the tilted position your head is placed in when looking at a phone or tablet – and over time can lead to poor posture, chronic pain, severe upper back spasms, early onset arthritis in the neck and a pinched cervical nerve.

Looking down at your phone at a 60 degree angle can place up to 27kg of weight through the spine, causing an increase in the mid-back curvature. 

Sydney woman Trudi Yip, 51, is one of many who has experienced this firsthand due to spending 12 hours a day desk-bound at work.

New research commissioned by the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) revealed the pandemic has caused a huge spike in mobile device use, leading to more people developing ‘hunches’ referred to as ‘tech necks’ (stock image)

Sydney woman Trudi Yip is one of many who has experienced this firsthand due to spending 12 hours a day desk-bound at work. In 2018 she noticed a curve in her neck (pictured, left) and it took up to 12 months to reverse her 'tech neck' (pictured, right)

Sydney woman Trudi Yip is one of many who has experienced this firsthand due to spending 12 hours a day desk-bound at work. In 2018 she noticed a curve in her neck (pictured, left) and it took up to 12 months to reverse her ‘tech neck’ (pictured, right)

Trudi told FEMAIL she first noticed a curve in her neck in 2018 prior to launching her book.

‘At the book launch I had a profile photo taken of myself and when I saw the photo I thought: “Oh I look like an old person!”,’ she said.

Trudi also experienced awful monthly headaches that left her bedridden for an entire day due to the built-up pressure from a 70-hour work week.

To promote good posture, the ACA recommends standing up from your desk every 20 minutes, practicing 'chin tucks' and being conscious of how you look at your phone (stock image)

To promote good posture, the ACA recommends standing up from your desk every 20 minutes, practicing ‘chin tucks’ and being conscious of how you look at your phone (stock image)

To regain good posture, Trudi visited the chiropractor once a week for eight weeks to realign her spine, neck and hips, followed by monthly appointments for six months.

During this time, she changed her habits at work by getting up from her desk regularly, pushing her shoulders back and completing body stretches.

Trudi first started noticing a difference to her neck after six months and stopped having headaches within 12 months.

She suggested those wanting to improve their posture should opt to see a chiropractor, physio or neuromusculoskeletal expert once a month.

Do you have a neck hump? Osteopath reveals his quick three-step trick for resetting your posture 

Over the past year, Australians have experienced many neck-related health issues, which have impacted the quality of life, mental health, concentration levels and general wellbeing.

Data that surveyed 1,003 Australian adults showed that neck discomfort (42 per cent), neck stiffness (42 per cent), neck pain (39 per cent), tension headaches (36 per cent), and migraines (25 per cent) were the most common neck-related issues reported in the last 12 months.

Almost a third (30 per cent) of Australians said that on average, every hour they reach for their phone between five to 30 times, and one in ten admitted to doing so 40 times or more.

To maintain a healthy spine, experts suggest taking a brief break every 30 to 60 minutes to stand up and move around – but many workers admitted they don’t take these recommended breaks.

An astonishing 41 per cent of Australians working from home take regular (at least every hour) breaks. 

How to prevent ‘tech neck’

The term ‘tech neck’ refers to the tilted position your head is placed in when looking at a phone or tablet – and over time this can lead to poor posture

Take 20/20 breaks – when using your phone or working take short, 20-second breaks, and every 20 minutes to stand up, move and stretch  

Chin tucks – do 5-10 chin tucks every hour

Start in a seated position with your shoulders relaxed, look straight forward, place a finger on the chin 

Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck (there should now be some separation between the chin and finger)

Hold for 5 seconds if possible and bring the chin forward again to the finger

Change how you hold your phone – bring the screen to eye level so your head is not slouched forward or too high. Instead, keep a neutral spine so your ear is in line with your shoulders

Consider your sleeping position and set up – if you sleep on your stomach and wake up with a stiff/sore neck consider switching to side sleeping. Having the right sleeping setup also matters, try and opt for a firmer or higher pillow. You may also find it easier to have a second pillow to cuddle to prevent you from rolling back to your stomach

Stay active – include regular walks in your day, minimum of five minutes, every hour 

In order to avoid ‘tech neck’, ACA has developed a five-step cheat sheet for Aussies to take better care of their neck health.

Experts recommend a 20/20 break system by taking 20-second breaks from your phone or desk by standing up every 20 minutes.

To promote good posture, they also recommend a ‘chin tuck’ movement to ensure your neck is in an ideal position.

To do this, start in a seated position with your shoulders relaxed, look straight forward and place a finger on the chin.

Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck.

Hold for five seconds if possible and bring the chin forward again to the finger, then repeat.

It’s also important to change the way you hold your phone or alter your sleeping position if necessary.

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