Tech Neck: What is it & How to Beat it
How many hours a day are you spending at your desk? On your phone? Reading a book? Driving? How mindful are you of your posture while you are doing these activities (how mindful are you of your posture right at this moment!)?
Human design wasn’t created with tech in mind.
We were built to hunt and gather. Early humans spent their time walking and running in search of food and for survival. As our world has modernized and we have become a sedentary industrialized nation, our health has suffered. Enter technology, and our physical body - particularly our heads and necks - are paying the price.
The human head weighs approximately 10-12 pounds.
Yeah, you read that right. So when you visit the pumpkin patch this spooky season, make note of how much your jack-o'-lantern weighs, and ponder the fact that your neck is doing quite a bit of heavy lifting on the daily. Holding your pumpkin upright and close to your body in a comfortable position makes it simple to carry back to your car, but what if you held the pumpkin straight out, tilted downward? This task becomes significantly more difficult, and it's not unlike the experience your neck encounters as you hunch over your laptop, phone, and other devices.
When you lean your head forward to see your computer screen, read on your kindle or scroll on your phone, you are adding weight onto your neck muscles, which - regardless of the millions of years they're had to adapt - couldn't possibly have prepared for this with such little notice. Just leaning forward at a 15 degree angle nearly triples the amount of pressure on your neck muscles increasing your natural 10(ish) pounds of pressure to a whopping 27 pounds of pressure! Yikes.
The further you lean forward, the more weight these muscles have to bear. According to the Nielsen Company, Americans spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes per day engaging in screen time (which begs the question, where is the time for Pilates?!). This amount of time is expected to continue to increase as our lives become more tech dependent (anyone else getting WALL-E vibes here...). So if you've experienced tension, headaches, muscle spasms and pain between your shoulder blades, you're not alone. In fact, it's likely that all Americans are encountering these symptoms due to what is sometimes referred to as “tech neck.”
It's unlikely you're going to give up scrolling through social media, or tell your boss you can't send that important email for your neck health, so what can we do to free ourselves of tech neck? We can use the principles of Pilates to guide us to proper tech posture!
We can use centering, control, and deep breathing exercises to establish our focus. Have the tech meet you halfway. Instead of dropping your head, elevate your screen. For those of us who sit at a desk, we can evaluate the ergonomic set-up of our work space. Your setup should be tailored to you!
Elbows at a 90º angle
Legs at a 90º angle
Computer screen an arms length away
Eyes naturally falling to the address bar of an internet browser - this is the key to preventing unnecessary angling of the head and neck.
Set reminders on your phone to get up and move and reset your posture frequently throughout the day. When you engage with technology, stay mindful and engaged with your core, and shoulder positioning.
With your ergonomic setup complete and your movement reminders set, employ these simple exercises and stretches at your desk or while sitting at home.
Sitting tall, take 5 deep belly breaths and slowly exhale. These deep breaths naturally open up a rounded posture.
Pull your shoulders up to your ears and roll them back and down.
With your hands grasping onto the sides of your chair, tilt your head to one side and hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat on both sides two to three times.
Even with all these great tips and tricks, don't forget one of the best ways to promote healthy posture is joining us for a Pilates class, duet or private! We’ve got your back, literally!
Catalyst Rehab Studio
Eat well. Live well. Move well.