With new technology comes new diagnoses. Many have heard the term “tech neck.” It is caused by the poor neck posture we maintain when holding our phones, laptops and tablets. Our chin is down, our head drops forward and shoulders come forward, holding the item.

We get engrossed in the information shared or the games we play and lose track of time. We start feeling muscles tightening in our necks, upper backs and sometimes into shoulders and hands. We may get headaches, have tingling in our arms, have eye strain, and/or trouble falling asleep

With school starting again our children will be busy keeping in touch with each other and doing homework. We adults fall into the same posture as well.

So, how do we keep up with technology without suffering body aches and pains?

First, take breaks every 15-20 minutes, looking up from the gadget of choice. Set a timer if needed to remind you to do this. Now is the time to stretch. Look over your right shoulder until you feel a comfortable stretch and hold. Repeat looking over your left shoulder. Look up and hold. Pull your chin toward the back of your neck to create double chins and hold. Bring your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch, repeating on the other side. Reach overhead with both arms with your neck in a neutral position. Reach back with both arms keeping your neck upright. Hold each position 10-20 seconds in the comfortable stretch-feel position. Repeat 2-3 times before returning to your techy activity. Even better, add a few minutes of walking around, focusing on something in the distance to rest your eyes and the other parts of your body.

Besides stretching and taking breaks, try bringing the gadget to eye level with your arms, using stands, or propping the gadget on higher surfaces.

I hope these hints make your learning and fun activities more comfortable.

If you have further questions or want guidance on exercises, posture, pain relieving options, request orders for physical therapy. St. Catherine’s Living Center offers outpatient physical therapy services as well as the other providers in our Twin Towns. Contact us at 701-642-6667.

Have a great and successful school year.

Denise Jelinek, PT, St. Catherine’s Living Center, Wahpeton

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