Understanding Tech Neck by Dr. Zeinah Keen

Understanding Tech Neck and Zeinah’s top tips to help reduce painful symptoms

There is no doubt about it, everyone is at it, including our children. Heads down looking at a screen for endless hours (if you add it all up in a day). Unfortunately, this can be a path to pain and disability, extended periods of time with our heads and necks in a forward flexed position.

Looking at the picture of this x-ray. The image on the left shows head and neck in normal alignment. There does appear to be some early stages of osteoarthritis and some loss of the cervical lordosis (natural curvature of the neck). However, if we look at the picture on the right with the head and neck flexed the anterior vertebrae are compressed and although we cannot see soft tissue here, the neck flexors will be shortened and the muscles at the back of the neck are elongated and having to work extra hard to correct his eye level to a horizontal position. There will be muscle fatigue, weakness and nerve root irritation.


So, in a nutshell, here are some of the potential physical issues for a ‘tech neck’;

  • Neck pain
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome (nerve pain around shoulder, neck and arm)
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Thoracic and lumbar back pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Respiratory issues


Top tips to prevent pain

  1. Do not spend more than 15-20 mins in one session with your head and neck in this position. Get up and move around or even better do some stretches to neutralise the spine.
  2. Work on building strength in the posterior muscles of the neck to give you extra support.
  3. Bring your device up to your eye level with your head resting back on a head rest.
  4. If you start to get pain, stop what you are doing and contact me. Osteopathic treatment can help with your symptoms as well as educating you about your body and what you can do to prevent further recurrences of your injury.

For more information contact Zeinah on 9452 2292 or book an appointment on the Village Health booking service


Neck flexor strengthening 1

Lie on your back, and lift your head off the floor/bed while tucking your chin in slightly. You should feel the muscles at the front and side of your neck contracting. Use a pillow if that feels more comfortable.

Repeat 5 times



Superficial neck Extensor strengthening

Kneel down on the floor, or on a bed, so you are on your hands and knees. Move your neck downwards, into full flexion (bend). Extend your neck as if you were to look up at the ceiling. Imagine you are rotating your head upwards around an axis going through your ears. This will help to strengthen your superficial neck Extensors.

Repeat 10 times



Neck flattening

Lying flat, tuck your chin down to your chest reducing the gap between your neck and the floor. You will feel a gentle stretch at the top back of your neck. Hold this position, and then relax. Repeat as required.

Hold for 5 sec | Repeat 5 times



Improving neck Hyperlordosis 2

Lying on your back, place a rolled up towel (of approximately 4 inches/10cm diameter) under your neck. You should feel the towel pushing upwards into your neck. This is a great exercise for people who spend too much time forward flexing their necks, e.g. computer and laptop users.

Hold for 3 mins


Neck semi-circles

Circle your neck to one side, and then the other side. Move your neck in a semi-circle direction. Don’t worry if you get some crunching or scrunching in the neck, this is normal. You can use this exercise to get your neck more mobile.
Repeat 5 times | Perform both sides



Upper cervical rotation with full flexion

Sitting with good posture, tuck your chin to your chest (or as far as feels comfortable). Gently rotate your neck by no more than two inches each side. This will help improve your upper neck rotation.

Repeat 5 times | Perform both sides



Neck side flexion overstretch 2

Ensuring your nose is pointing forwards, bend your neck as if you were taking your left ear towards your left shoulder, using your hand to gently apply overpressure. Hold on to a chair to make the stretch stronger. You should feel the stretch to your neck on the same side you are holding on to the chair. Repeat to the right. This exercise will help improve mobility to your neck.
After 30 sec tuck your chin and very slightly rot your head so eyes are looking towards armpit.
Hold for 30 sec | Perform both sides



Sitting extension

Support your neck by placing your hands Interlocked behind your neck. Rounds you lower back slightly, to focus the movement to the upper back, and slowly bend backwards.
Repeat 5 times



Towel extension horizontal

Roll up a hand-towel, and place it under your spine and lie flat on your back with your knees bent. You can place the rolled up towel anywhere along the upper back, but one of the best places is right underneath the shoulder blades. This exercise can help improve mobility to the spine and improve posture.
Hold for 3 mins


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