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Gamer neck: What is it and how do you fix it?

Gamer Neck

Are you someone who loves to play video games? If you think about it, do you often find yourself slouching in your chair or on your bed while you’re looking at your screen? If so, you could very likely have something called “gamer neck,” also known teasingly as “nerd neck.” Gamer neck is a type of abnormal posture that has increased as the use of technology, like gaming, phones and computers, has increased. It can lead to more serious problems that may cause neck, shoulder, and low back pain or irritation, like muscle spasms, muscle strain, and joint fixation. 

What are some common causes of gamer neck?

  • Poor posture — It can be easy to forget to maintain good posture while you’re involved in an exciting video game. However, poor posture can be one of the primary causes of gamer neck. When you watch something on a screen, you’re likely to learn forward unconsciously, and the weight of your head then increases. This can place significant strain on your neck and cause pain or discomfort.
  • Muscular imbalance — For those with muscular imbalances in the upper body, particularly the neck and shoulders, sitting still for long periods of time with your head leaning forward can cause weakened muscles to spasm or even atrophy. It can also cause certain muscles to overcompensate for weak or immobile muscles.

What are some symptoms of gamer neck?

  • Sharp, stabbing pain.
  • Dull, throbbing pain.
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Reduced range of motion and mobility in the neck.

How can you prevent gamer neck?

  • Maintain proper postureKeeping good posture while playing video games is a good strategy to prevent gamer neck. It can be very easy to let your posture go when you’re involved in a good game and to start hunching your back and leaning your neck forward. If you can, try to be mindful of your posture while playing.
  • Strengthen the muscles in your back, neck, abdomen and shoulders — One way you can try to prevent this condition is to strengthen the muscles in your upper body. This can be completed through strength training and regular movement, like walking, running, stretching and doing neck exercises. It’s important to support your head and neck the best you can by increasing the strength and flexibility of the supporting muscles.
  • Give yourself breaks — One way you can work to prevent gamer neck is by giving yourself frequent breaks in between screen time. This means stepping away from your screen for a few minutes at a time, standing up straight and stretching your muscles. 

What are some treatment methods for gamer neck?

  • StretchingStretching is an effective, low-impact method for those with gamer neck. It can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility in the head, neck, shoulders, and abdomen. Not only this, but stretching is a great way to release the tension that becomes stored in your body as a result of sitting f​​or a long time.
  • Strength building — Strength building can be a great way to relieve pain and correct muscle weakness and imbalance in the upper body. Stronger muscles can support the head and neck better and also protect your joints while you sit for extended periods of time.
  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy can be a great resource for those with this particular type of condition because it can be used to combine the two above treatment methods — stretching and strength building — into a professionally guided treatment and care plan. Virtual physical therapy can be especially effective for esports players because it’s easy to access and can be done from home. Virtual esports physical therapy allows your physical therapist to see your gaming setup and make recommendations for adjustments that may reduce your neck pain. If left untreated, your gamer neck could progress into more serious conditions.

Each of these methods is most effective as part of a more extensive treatment plan. By contacting a physical therapist, you can receive help with personalized care that can be carried out from the comfort of your own home and that can work with your gaming or office setup. The simplest way to create this type of care plan is to virtually meet with a physical therapist. 

If you aren’t sure how virtual physical therapy platforms can serve you specifically, consider the benefits of performing the methods listed above. Now, think about the benefits of these physical therapy methods and many others when they are placed into an all-encompassing care plan for your physical health. You can perform all of these from your home — while gaming, even! If you’re still not convinced, you may want to speak with a clinician about how your individual needs can be helped.

Why choose Agile Virtual Physical Therapy?

Agile Virtual Physical Therapy can offer more than 400 licensed clinicians. We’re committed to providing effective PT care through our telehealth platform. At Agile Virtual PT, we provide services in 45 U.S. states and free virtual screenings. For more information including our many partnerships, read here. 

At Agile Virtual Physical Therapy, we have experienced professionals who are qualified to create a personalized plan with you containing at-home physical therapy exercises customized for your age and fitness level.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.