It’s a problem that plagues the modern world. We see it everywhere from homes, bus stops, parks, work, and even hiking trails.
What am I talking about?…
“Tech neck” or “Text neck,” a term coined for the common position we find ourselves in while looking at our phones, tablets, or computers, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness.
I’m sure even now as you read this, you’re in that position (head forward, shoulders rounded, back hunched), but how do we alleviate the symptoms, prevent it from happening, and what are the best exercises for it?
That’s what I’m covering in this blog. Read on, feel better, and stop tech neck!
If you want to skip straight to the exercises and stretches, scroll down.
What Is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is the result of hunching over, rounding your shoulders, and leaning your neck forward to work on the computer, look at your phone, or interact with another type of screened device.
This position isn’t the best for your neck. Holding your head up requires the muscles on the back of your neck to contract, which becomes more difficult as you lean your head forward.
Because your head weighs roughly 10Lbs, the more you look down; the more the muscles and ligament structures have to strain to hold your head up. This is tech neck.
The symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Neck spasms
- Pain between shoulder blades
For most people, especially those that work at a desk for long periods of time, tech neck happens unintentionally and almost automatically over time. It’s natural to lean closer to the screen to focus.
Obviously, not using your computer or smartphone isn’t really an option, so how do we prevent or avoid it?…
How to Avoid Tech Neck?
The obvious solution is to go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but for MOST people that’s really not an option.
So what do we do?
The best way to avoid tech neck is to be conscious of your posture and shift around often. One of the best positions for your neck while working at a desk is actually slightly reclined. This allows the muscles on the back of your neck to relax.
Moving around, changing sitting positions, and going into different postures often helps to introduce movement into your body, which can help you alleviate tension in an otherwise stagnant position.
That’s also a major reason why I recommend an adjustable desk that can help you go from sitting to standing. I even put a tiny treadmill under my desk. Movement is lotion for your joints.
I understand tech neck isn’t just from working at the computer. Many find themselves staring down at their phones longer and longer these days. (I blame that darn social media.)
It might seem like a pain at first, but try bringing your phone up to eye level with your arms. Do this, instead of looking down at your phone. This will relieve the strain and pressure on your neck.
What You Shouldn’t Do to Avoid Tech Neck
Some people recommend “fixing your posture” and “sitting up straight” as the best way to address tech neck and even lower back pain. But I disagree.
The human body is quite resilient that automatically learns to adapt and learn new movement patterns. Sitting up straight ALL THE TIME isn’t really an option. Not only is it unsustainable, but it also still puts pressure on the vertebrae of your spine in a sub-optimal way.
As I said previously, motion is lotion. That’s why it’s best to be aware of your posture and move from time to time. Get up, go for a short walk, stretch your neck, and maybe even do a short yoga routine – all of these will help you avoid tech neck.
How to Get Rid of Tech Neck?
Getting rid of tech neck permanently doesn’t have a quick solution, but a combination of being aware of your posture, practicing stretches for your neck and shoulders, and strengthening the muscles around your neck can all benefit you.
I’ll cover all the stretches and exercises you can use to relieve tech neck below.
Tech Neck Stretches & Exercises – Immediate Relief
Stretching your neck and shoulders is a great way to get some immediate relief from tech neck, especially if you’re getting hit with an intense headache or achy pain. These stretches and exercises can be used throughout the day and as many times as you want. Try them out!
Yoga Poses For Relieving Tech Neck – Long Term Solution
A long-term solution for relieving tech neck is making sure the muscles around your neck and upper-back are strong enough to resist rounding and fatigue.
Yoga is great for this, because it introduces new movement patterns for your body, while strengthening the muscles as well. This lets you move better, feel better, and helps to be a long-term solution for getting rid of tech neck.
Here are some of my go-to poses.
Downward Facing Dog
Down dog is an essential pose for decompressing your neck as a slight inversion. It’s also great at strengthening your upper-back and shoulders.
- Start in Plank with your shoulders over your hands, core engaged, feet hip-width apart, and toes tucked.
- Lift hips to form a straight line from shoulders to heels.
- Lift your hips back and up to form a pyramid shape with your body. Focus on creating a straight line from hands to hips.
- Squeeze your upper thighs and abdominal muscles toward each other.
- Rotate biceps slightly forward to open your shoulders and release tension in the neck.
- Squeeze your arms and shoulders toward each other to engage the upper body.
- Relax your neck to look back at your feet.
- Release heels toward the floor to stretch the calves.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen and lift, and exhaling as you deepen the stretch and increase engagement.
A great pose for introducing healthy movement into your spine, especially from sitting all day. This pose is often done on the floor, but you can also do a pseudo version, while still seated at your chair.
- Start on all fours with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. (Toes can be tucked or untucked.)
- Position knees and ankles parallel to each other, hip-width apart.
- Form an L-shape with your index fingers and thumbs.
- Inhale as you arch your spine, pulling your chest forward and lifting your tailbone toward the ceiling.
- Lengthen the front side of your torso, and maintain length in your mid- and upper spine.
- Exhale as you round your spine, pulling your forehead toward your hips.
- Press down through your hands to lift the upper back toward the ceiling.
- Tuck your chin to your chest.
- This is one rep. Continue to alternate slowly from Cat to Cow, inhaling as you move into the full extension of Cow, and exhaling as you move into the full flexion of Cat.
- Lengthen each breath as much as possible.
- Start sitting with your back away from the backrest.
- Sit upright with the crown of your head reaching towards the ceiling.
- Inhale as you arch your spine, looking upward as you pull your chest towards the ceiling.
- Maintain length in your spine as you go into a small arch.
- Exhale as you round your spine, pulling your forehead towards your hips.
- Tuck your chin and feel the stretch in your neck.
- This is one rep – repeat as you push farther into your range of motion each time.
An amazing pose for strengthening your back with a slight back-bend. It’s active, effective, and intense.
- Lie on your stomach, and place your hands under your shoulders with your elbows pointing straight back, close to your sides.
- Spread your fingers wide and relax palms under your shoulders.
- Engage and rotate thighs inward so kneecaps point straight down and all toes are touching the floor.
- Squeeze your big toes, ankles, knees, and inner thighs toward each other.
- Press your pelvis and tops of feet into the floor.
- Inhale as you use your core (not arms) to lengthen spine forward and slightly lift your chest away from the floor.
- Press the crown of your head away from your shoulders to look forward.
- Pull shoulder blades down and toward each other, squeeze elbows to sides, and use your hands to pull (not push) your body forward and up.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lift slightly higher, and exhaling as you increase engagement and maintain height.
Want to Get Rid of Teck Neck & Back Pain?
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a high chance you find yourself sitting A LOT. It’s normal nowadays, but what shouldn’t be normal is tech neck and back pain.
You can effectively combat these two problems by
- Being conscious of your posture
- Introducing a regular routine of exercise & movement
If you’ve struggled with staying active before, I invite you to join my 6-Week Strength Foundations Challenge. You’ll get 5 workouts per week AND daily emails to keep you motivated and consistent. Challenges start every Monday.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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