Gamer neck AKA nerd neck AKA tech neck AKA text neck is not something you want to have. Its other name, “scholar’s neck,” doesn’t sound as bad, but it’s still not something you want to have.
Gamer neck is a posture developed by many avid gamers, but the term is also generally applicable to anyone who spends a considerable amount of time facing a computer screen. Gamer neck is described as the forward positioning of the neck one inch or more in front of the atlas (first neck vertebra). In simple terms, gamer neck occurs when the neck is slanting forward, in front of the shoulders, often accompanied by slouching shoulders and a hunched back. This can also happen when you play certain sports like golf, hockey, or tennis—or any profession that causes weak neck muscles in the front of the neck and tight upper back muscles.
Even if you aren’t one of the 164 million Americans in the United States who plays video games, you may still suffer from gamer neck. The digital age and tech era that defines our generation has us spending more time than ever indoors and facing a screen, whether it be a computer, tablet, or phone. Ergonomic desk setups have been rising in popularity for a good reason — far too many of us are developing poor posture (gamer neck), and it’s adversely affecting our health and well-being.
What Causes Gamer Neck?
Unfortunately, many modern-day activities can lead to gamer neck. Activities like using our computer, scrolling on our phones, and playing video games, to name a few.
Gamer neck develops when we spend too much time leaning into our screen, with our neck held too far forward and with our upper body generally hunched. This causes problems such as shoulder, neck, and back pain, decreased blood flow, impaired ability to digest food properly, strained muscles, nerves, and ligaments, and more. Bad habits, repetitive movements, and a lack of frequent breaks all contribute to the symptoms of gamer neck syndrome. Just a few adjustments can save you from cervical spine pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, herniated discs, jaw tension, and a host of other ailments throughout your body—some of which may even require surgery in the future.
Correct posture, comfortable seating, and overall health and well-being are all interconnected. Many of us spend an average of eight hours at our desks every single day; these eight hours are either strengthening our posture or hurting our bodies. Gamer neck is the epitome of poor posture, but having good posture is really important. It’s one of the first things people notice about us, and our posture directly affects how we’re perceived. Correct posture signals and exudes confidence, good energy, and health.
While we can’t change how much time we need to spend sitting down (unless you really are an avid gamer; that you can control), we can change how we sit. The world of ergonomic desk setups is booming these days, and thank goodness for it.
Improve Your Gaming Set Up
The good news is that gamer neck is old news, and many, many people have already set out to solve this problem. Having an ergonomic desk setup isn’t just for people in business sitting in office cubicles all day; ergonomic desk setups have made their way into the everyday home, too. We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to, and here’s what we found for how you can improve your gaming setup at home and support a neutral position.
Monitor placement. Monitor placement is one of the most significant factors that can contribute to developing gamer neck. The computer or laptop monitor should be directly in front of you, an arm’s distance away, and with the top of the screen either at or slightly below eye level. The same principle applies to your smartphone, even when you're just using your cell phone to look at social media.
Correct monitor placement affects the positioning of your neck (and consequently your shoulders and back), reduces eye strain, and sets you up to maintain a healthy posture. If your default seated position has your neck tilted either upward or downward at your devices, you need to adjust your monitor. If you’re straining to see your computer monitor or workstation, you may need to pull it forward or push it backward. If you’re too easily slumping into a slouched position or raising your chin, you may need to adjust the monitor’s height. Keep the back of your head flush against your seat as you work with a chin tuck to help prevent neck pain and tension headaches (which come with their own cocktail of symptoms including numbness, weakness, and sleep issues).
Keyboard and mouse positioning. Your keyboard and mouse should be positioned directly in front of you. There should be an invisible straight line extending from the center of your chest right through your keyboard and hitting the base of the middle of the computer. The keyboard and mouse should be positioned in such a way that your default position (when idle from typing) has your elbows resting comfortably at your sides with your arms at or below a 90-degree angle.
Ideally, the keyboard should sit approximately two inches above your thighs and have a slight negative tilt (down and away from you). If your keyboard doesn’t allow for a negative angle, it should always be neutral (flat) and never tilting inward. For those who spend a lot of time - like, seriously, a lot of time - at the computer, it’s well worth your while to look into an ergonomic keyboard setup to support your wrists, help prevent carpal tunnel and tendinitis, and support proper shoulder blade positioning. Trust us.
Back support pillow. The easiest way of ensuring correct posture while seated is with a back support pillow. Adding a simple backrest cushion supports the natural curves of your spine and helps your back stay in the healthy position of a slight arch with an upright posture. Anyone who’s spent several hours sitting down knows that posture is one of the first things to go as we get tired, but additional lumbar support from a back pillow at your lower trapezius is an easy way to prevent us from slouching.
A memory foam lumbar support back cushion reduces pressure along the back and spine and supports natural spinal curvature. The ergonomic and orthopedic doctor recommended design cradles your back to provide superior support. It encourages you to practice proper posture, which plays a massive role in the healthy alignment of your neck (AKA avoiding gamer neck).
Seat cushion. Incorporating a seat cushion does more than deter developing a sore bum; it also directly affects posture and how we hold our neck. A seat cushion relieves pressure on the spine and hips, which in turn eases tension for the spine all the way up to the neck. Memory foam is the optimal material for any type of cushion as it molds perfectly to your unique curves and keeps you feeling snuggled and in place. Consider investing in a memory foam seat cushion that will relieve pain and pressure for the entire lower body, improve circulation, and encourage healthy posture — all of which reduce the likelihood of developing gamer neck.
Footrest. Hear us out; a footrest is perhaps the most underrated addition to any ergonomic desk setup. An ergonomic footrest improves blood circulation for the entire lower body, supports healthy posture, and keeps the body actively engaged while still providing comfortable support. This footrest’s “teardrop” design raises your feet to an optimal angle for alleviating pressure, reducing pain, and maximizing comfort in your joints and knees. By encouraging the correct and natural alignment for the entire body, the neck is supported in healthy positioning.
Correct Posture, Then Game On
Gamer neck sucks, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is that gamer neck is fixable, and relatively easily. An ergonomic desk setup offers a plethora of health benefits that will affect your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Look into optimizing your desk setup, and then keep calm and game on.