Pilates teacher, Sarah Shell, explains ‘Tech Neck’ and its implications for the rest of our body and posture. Providing ways in which we can avoid this position and ease associated pain, Sarah goes through several exercises and tips to keeping your neck, spine and back strong.
“Tech neck” as they call it, is when we lean forward to look at our computer, tablet device or phone which is usually on a desk and lower than eye level which causes us to drop our head and crane our neck forward.
As a result of this repeated position, over time, our body literally creates fat deposits around the c7 part of our spine (bottom part of the neck that’s in line with the shoulders) to help protect and counteract the weight of the head (8 to 10 pounds!). If you’ve seen people with a big bump right at the bottom of their neck…that’s what I’m talking about!
Now that I have your attention, you should also know that craning the neck forward causes our shoulders to round, continuing the chain down to ultimately bad posture!
From so much sitting in our cars and at our desks it’s so important to strengthen the posterior (back part of our bodies) and it’s equally important to stretch the anterior chain of the body.
The best thing you can do for tech neck is get up from your computer or device and take as many breaks as you can! I would even recommend setting alarms on your device to remind you to get up or sit up tall.
Some other very simple things you can do is:
- Stand up, roll your shoulders back and walk around.
- Tilt your head side to side.
- Adjust your posture so your head is in a neutral position- ears over shoulders!
- Think chin back!
- Try bringing your device up to eye level
A great way to practice correct posture of the cervical spine and to strengthen the neck is to use a rolled up wash cloth or folded up pair of socks and put it right at the bottom of the neck or C7. You can either stand up against a wall, lie down on the floor, or you could even do this in the car!
- Pressing into the sock or towel, roll your shoulders back to hold the sock in place and tuck your chin back to bring your head back all the way to the wall.
- Stick your head out and then pull your chin back to touch your head against the wall or chair.
- Repeat this between ten to twenty times. If you are lying on the floor it’s a little more intense as gravity is pulling your head down so the muscles in your neck will really have to work hard in order to lift your head.
Another way to strengthen your back and to help with Tech Neck is to use a Theraband or some sort of strengthening band. Sit on the floor with the band around your feet, holding both sides of the band.
Pull the band back with your arms squeezing your shoulder blades together and opening the chest slightly. Think elbows back! Repeat 20 times.
This will strengthen the muscles in between your shoulder blades. When these muscles are strong we are more able to hold our shoulders back, causing better posture. When you sit up tall it almost immediately causes you to pull your back so your neck is in line with your spine.
Sarah Shell divides her time between Los Angeles and Ojai California. She has had a professional dance career for over 15 years that included world tours, commercials and television productions.
Being a dancer, she has always practiced Pilates to stay strong and in shape. As a certified Pilates instructor since 2009, Sarah has been teaching her own style of Pilates that combines components of dance to develop a long, lean, and toned body. She is committed to helping her clients look and feel their best.