Looking down at your phone, tablet, or laptop can cause ongoing neck pain. When you hold this tilted, head-forward posture for long periods of time, you may develop a repetitive stress injury or muscle strain.

See How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain

There are several steps you can take to treat tech neck. Watch: Text Neck Treatment Video

This ailment is commonly referred to as tech neck (sometimes called text neck) and can be avoided by changing a few habits. Here are 5 simple steps you can take to prevent the pain:

See Text Neck Symptoms and Diagnosis

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1. Raise your screen higher

Hold your phone or tablet up close to eye level to avoid sloping your head forward or bending your neck down. If your arms get tired from holding the screen higher, buy a holder to elevate your device, or rest your elbows on a tabletop to prop your arms up comfortably. If you work on a laptop, get a second monitor and adjust the height.

See Text Neck Treatment and Prevention

2. Take breaks often

If you have to look at a screen for an extended period of time, take breaks. Develop a habit of taking a 2- or 3-minute break every half hour, and set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Use these breaks to change your posture and move around, keeping your muscles loose and spine aligned. Try this quick stretch on break: tuck your chin down, then slowly raise it upward. Then gently turn your head over one shoulder, then the other.

See Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics

3. Sit in a chair with a headrest

The ergonomics of your chair can help you maintain correct posture and avoid tech neck. Switch to a chair that has a headrest and keep the back of your head flush against the headrest while you use your screen. Holding your head in this position will prevent you from looking down with your neck flexed forward.

See Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair

4. Strengthen and stretch your muscles

Strengthening and stretching your chest, neck, and upper back can help to prevent muscle imbalances caused by forward head posture. Watch: 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain Video

Over time, muscle imbalances can develop due to long-term forward head posture. To prevent these imbalances, it helps to strengthen and stretch your chest, neck, and upper back muscles. Keeping these muscles in good shape helps support the weight of your head and minimize strain on your cervical spine.

See Forward Head Posture’s Effect on the Cervical Spine

You can also perform exercises that target your abdominals and lower back. While it may seem counterintuitive to work out this part of your body to prevent tech neck, these muscle groups play a role in supporting your upper body, including your neck.

See Neck Exercises for Neck Pain

5. Use pain as a warning sign

If you experience pain in your neck, between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms, or frequent headaches, there may be a more serious issue going on. Pay attention to these warning signs and act quickly to make changes to reduce or eliminate any head-forward posture straining your neck.

See What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Try all or some of the above methods and see which ones work for you. If your neck pain symptoms don’t improve, it may be time to seek help from a qualified health professional.

Learn more:

Workplace Ergonomics and Neck Pain

Forward Head Posture’s Effect on Neck Muscles

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