By Blake and Gwen Beckcom
Have you heard of “tech neck”? More people than ever are suffering from this problem due to the long hours spent looking down at phones, tablets and laptops. If this issue is not resolved, it may lead to chronic pain and even permanent changes in your skeletal structure.
However, there are some exercises that you can do to help prevent this problem and soothe the pain. Fortunately, these exercises can easily be added to your daily routine so you can be sure to keep your neck health in check.
Your body adapts to the strains that you put on it. We know that holding stretches for more than 20 minutes can lead to muscle tension and lack of flexibility, which is why we tend to move around a lot or change our resting position.
When you are hunched over looking at a screen, you are allowing your neck to remain in a forward position because you are straining your tissues, which causes them to lose their pliability. This may not feel too bad now, but it can certainly lead to discomfort and dysfunction in the future.
What can you do to fix it?
You do not want your “tech neck” to lead to permanent neck complications as you start to age. Because of this, it is best to take action to alleviate and reverse symptoms while you still can. Unless there has already been structural damage done to your skeleton, you should be able to change your resting posture and train your neck back to how it should rest, which is in an upright position.
The first thing you should do is make it a point to get up from your screen every 30 minutes. Take a little walk around or do something to take a break. Additionally, try adding the following easy exercises into your daily routine. Take some time every day to do 10 repetitions of each of these exercises.
- Over-correct yourself by slouching.
Get in an extreme slouched posture while you roll your shoulders forward and bend your neck forward at the same time. Then, do the reverse of this move. Over-correct the other way by rolling your shoulders as far back as you can and lifting your chin up toward the sky.
- Do chin tucks.
Begin by looking straight forward. Slowly lower your chin as far as you can to stretch your neck while you move your gaze downward. Hold this for a few moments and then slowly bring your chin back up to a neutral position.
- Do overhead reaches.
You can do this either sitting or standing. Make sure that your back is straight and that you are looking straight ahead. Relax your shoulders to make sure that you are not tensing the muscles in your neck. You may even want to push your shoulders down a bit from where it feels natural. Raise your arms slowly over your head, reaching toward the sky. Hold this pose for a few moments and then slowly return your arms back down to a resting position.
- Do some scapular retractions.
Look straight ahead and relax your shoulders. Keep your arms placed by your sides. Without bringing your shoulders up, push your chest out a bit and squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you. Hold this for a few moments and then relax.
There are many other downfalls from spending too much time looking at technology, but people don’t often think about their neck health or their posture. Keep these exercises in mind while you are doing work or playing games on your various digital devices all day. Just like other anti-aging regimens you likely do, you will thank yourself for this when you are older and still have proper posture without pain.
—Blake and Gwen Beckcom run Fitness Together Mission Hills. Contact them at fitnesstogether.com/missionhills or call 619-794-0014.