Tech neck is a modern term used to describe the effects of being hunched over a phone and/or laptop for long periods each day. If you’re balancing your 9-to-5 office job whilst nailing your side hustle from the moment you get home, checking emails from your phone every minute of the day (in bed, in the bath, whilst eating, watching a movie… don’t kid yourself, you’ve done most if not all of those things!) chances are you’ve experienced troublesome head, neck and back pain. This is tech neck. Our bodies were designed to move, not to sit for hours day after day and, let’s face it, many of us probably don’t execute a healthy posture while we glare into our screens!
There’s a lot of discussion amongst movement practitioners as to whether our hand held devices are responsible for neck pain and as with anything, you can find studies that argue either way. However, there’s no denying that looking down at your phone or laptop with rounded shoulders for long periods at a time is going to impact you in some way. It’s going to cause muscle imbalances between the front and the back of your upper body and overtime this will impact your head and neck positioning.
So it’s good to try to counteract some of this without having to ditch our devices. Here are some great tips from Kerrie-Anne, founder of Pilates At Your Desk, that you can do any time, any place.
Have devices at eye height
Set your laptop/computer at eye height. If you have a laptop you can get a stand and freestanding keyboard from Amazon. Hold your phone at eye height too. If you don’t think you can remember to do this, you could always set your screensaver as a little reminder “I like to be at eye height”, for example.
Take regular breaks
Get up every 30 minutes and have a little break. 2 minutes is fine. It doesn’t have to be a run around the block, a little shake break will suffice. Touch your toes, reach for the sky, whatever you feel like!
Use your eyes and look up at your eyebrows every so often. Your eyes are muscles too and the more you look up, the less you look down – right?
Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head
Interlock your fingers and place your hands behind your head, thumbs on the soft bits under your skull. Press your head into your hands and your hands into your head. You should feel the muscles at the top of your spine working? These ones don’t get a workout when your slouched forward. This will remind them that they have a job too. I like to do this intermittently throughout the day to counteract my avid social media habit.
Lift your collar bones
Like above have your hands behind your head. Imagine you’re a puppet with strings attached to your collar bones. A puppeteer gentle pulls those strings lifting your collar bones to the ceiling. Keep pressing your head into your hands. Return to your start position. Do this a few times for a really love chest stretch.
Nod from your ears
So when we look down, the place to look down from is the hinge joint at our ears. A quick way to test this is to pop your fingers in your ears and nod your head up and down from there. It may feel weird but hopefully like a nice neck stretch. Now remove your fingers and see if you can look down by moving your head from your ears, rather than the base of your neck.
There’s a few things to keep you going. I post plenty more over on my instagram account @pilatesatyourdesk.
Kerrie-Anne Bradley is a Pilates teacher and founder of Pilates At Your Desk, taking her moves into office in London and beyond. She spent 10 years as a desk-slouching economist before retraining with Fletcher Pilates. Pilates At Your Desk is a programme delivered through corporate workshops and classes which teaches people to sit well and move more at work with easy-to-follow moves. You can join Kerrie-Anne for her Morning Moves – short functional movement workouts on Instagram.
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