5 Simple Ways To Undo Tech Neck
There is a pain that many people feel in their bodies that are often claimed to be “aging”. In reality, this “aging” pain has nothing to do with age. It has to do with constant sitting and staring downward at a screen. Think about it, depending on your job, it’s safe to say that many, many people’s daily jobs require hours of sitting with their shoulders slouched and their neck tilted down staring at a screen.
Everyday, There is a portion of these individuals who most likely spend their days like this without moving other than walking to and from their car and a building. There should really be no question as to where this pain comes from. Lack of movement and stiff joints that are packed to the brim with unused energy.
Yoga and meditation are great tools we can use to bring consciousness to parts of the body especially the neck, and that have become habitually unconscious due to tension constant technology focus.
Our tech-alignment problem.
It simply becomes a habit. Looking at our phones and computers all day has adverse effects on our physical well-being. When individuals turn to look at their screens on electronics, their collarbones roll toward one another and the upper back rounds, A.K.A. slouching. We see this after we’ve been working on our computers or even driving. Consciousness is the first step. Noticing this in yourself is the key to making the mindful change to stop it.
Alignment-wise our chins are moving forward and down in space to better view our screens. A downward gaze causes us to slouch, putting constant pressure on the cervical spine. This is not the natural position of our spine and many of us put it here for hours at a time every day. Many people experience mild to severe neck tension, headaches, and lower-back pain because of this. Using our fingers and wrists in a repetitive motion also causes inflammation in the wrist and thumb joint.
Consciously notice when you are picking up your phone out of habit or out of necessity.
As you become more aware of the habit, the easier it becomes to break it. Best practice for this is to create a daily ritual or designated time to go phone-free for at least an hour. Put the phone in another room, take a walk without your phone, and/or go to yoga or any other activity where you are not looking at your phone. Balancing time spent staring at a screen with time spent in nature is essential for mental well being. Being constantly connected is both a privilege and a curse. Your brain needs a break from being overstimulated with constant information on other people’s lives or successes and failures. Focus on yourself for some time each day. Your mind needs it and will thank you for releasing unnecessary stress. It could be a simple as going to the beach, a hike, sitting in the park, or even gazing at your plants—these things revitalize and refresh the spirit like nothing else.
Photo: @mikiash for @kylemilleryoga
Below are tactics to use to help combat and reverse tech-tension:
1. Don’t stay in one position for too long.
Set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch while you are working at your desk. You can simply get up from your chair as much as you can. Work standing up. Take a quick walk down the hall or up a flight of stairs and back down. The more time you spend on your feet, the better.
2. Release your lower back.
This is a great way to combat tight hip joints. When seated, cross your ankle over the opposite knee and send breath into your hips. This will help release the lower back. Also, use your chair and whatever else you have around you for a few twists throughout the day. Twists release the spine, help the function of the liver, and make more space for the lungs to expand.
3. Shake out your wrists.
You can start by shaking them softly but then speed it up and give them a hard shake up and down, side to side. This motion will bring blood to the area and release stagnation.
4. Ground yourself.
Even if you are stuck at your desk, make time for yourself and check-in with yourself. When that alarm mentioned above goes off each hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch, make sure to move your head, neck, and shoulders around to help counter “tech neck.” Align your head over your heart and your heart over your hips. This can completely shift your posture and give you a moment of embodied meditation. Giving yourself this moment of breath and self care will completely change the way your body feels and provide a quick burst of the energy that is building up in your muscles from sitting.
5. Spread the collarbones and open the front body.
Interlace your hands behind the mid back while seated to help spread the collarbones and arch the upper back. To even out the back, place your hands shoulder-width or wider at your desk and take a forward fold, thinking about making a right angle with the body. Take a few breaths and let the head drop. This will help reset the front of the body.
If you can find time away from the office, for example, during a lunch break or coffee break, step outside with a friend or a coworker and go for a short walk. Find a nearby park and take some deep breaths while strolling through it. If you bring a friend along or not, leave your phones at your desk for ten minutes. Just appreciate each other’s company and the nature around you.