Is Your Posture Stressing You Out?

The ‘tech neck’ epidemic is wreaking havoc on our nervous systems. Here’s how to fix it.

Dr. Jenny King

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Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

“Sit up straight!”

It was a common refrain among our grandparents, alongside other seemingly silly advice about wearing pantyhose and the link between cleanliness and godliness. But in this particular case, we really should have listened.

And to be clear, this is not a practice-what-I-preach type of piece. Right now, I am leaning forward not only to alternate looking at this laptop screen and the screen of its younger sibling (my phone) but also to sip my coffee. My grandmother would be horrified!

What does “good posture” look like in the head and neck? Neutral neck alignment looks like a slight tilt to the chin, which should align your ears with the front points of your shoulders. Check right now. Where is your chin, and where are your ears compared to your spine? Are your ears in line with your shoulders? Didn’t think so. But you’re not alone. The next time you’re in a public space– on a bus or train, at a restaurant or library–look at the posture of those around you. How many are looking down at their phones? I’d bet the answer is most, if not all, of them.

Forward Head Posture (FHP) is now considered an epidemic and a worldwide public health problem. Yes, seriously. The prevalence of FHP has increased dramatically over the past decade and is now as widespread–if not more widespread–than low back pain, especially among young people. COVID likely exacerbated this issue, as folks spent more time on cell phones and in Zoom meetings. Epidemiological research has shown that as much as 73% of university students and 64.5% of people who work from home have neck or back pain, at least partially attributed to screwy posture resulting from exorbitant screen time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

FHP is defined as a “postural distortion pattern” where the head protrudes along the sagittal plane so that it is placed in front of the trunk. There are two types. The first is characterized by bending of the cervical spine (looking down at a cellphone); the second is where…

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Dr. Jenny King

Mother. Social Work Educator. Consultant. Writer. Unschooler. Trauma-Informed. @drjennyking