Heard of tech neck? In a nutshell, it’s neck and back pain caused by hours at our desk, hunched over computers or staring down at our phones. Put it this way, for every inch that the head is held forward in poor posture, an additional ten pounds of weight is felt on the cervical spine. So if the average head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, just 1 or 2 inches of forward head posture can double or triple the load on the cervical spine. It’s a modern phenomenon that’s all too real. Here’s how to combat it…
What’s the problem?
“Over time, tech neck can not only put stress on the neck and shoulders, causing stiffness, but as an unexpected consequence, can cause damage to your spine too,” says Kate Burdett, Head Trainer at Raw Pilates.
The good news
It’s reversible. There are exercises you can do at your desk, where you spend most of your time in front of a computer, to prevent further discomfort. Here’s are Kate’s top tips on how you can combat tech neck once and for all.
Keep your desktop at eye level
Using a monitor stand for your computer can help to ensure your screen is at eye level. This will reduce neck flexion and mean that your head will no longer be leaning forward, resulting in that unwanted forward crouching that results in neck aches and pains.
If you work from a laptop, placing the laptop on a stand and attaching to a separate keyboard will offer the same results. It may also be worth considering swapping to a standing desk, this will not only help to prevent the effects of tech neck, but will provide a variety of health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity too.
Take regular breaks
Taking regular intervals from your screen will get you out of the habit of looking down and will prevent your neck, head and shoulders from being in the same slumped position for too long. Just 3 minutes per hour will really benefit the muscles and joints in your upper body, giving your body the chance to relax and reenergise before going back to your desk.
Incorporate Pilates into your routine
Although stretching and movement will help, I also highly recommend regular Pilates sessions to help combat tech neck. The strength aspect of Pilates will help to improve your posture and give you a stronger body long term. Pilates can also help to build a strong core and keep the spine strong enough to support bad postural habits.
Try simple ‘at work’ exercises from the comfort of your desk
Practicing posture improving sequences regularly can help to alleviate symptoms of tech neck and prevent further aches and pains. These sequences are simple, and you can find advice and instructions on how to perform these properly online.
Keep your body hydrated
The spine is made up of mostly water, therefore it is essential that you keep your body well hydrated. Water is the most healthy and obvious choice for keeping your body up to its optimum hydration levels. Aim to drink at least 2 litres per day as this will help support your spinal discs, which are largely made up of water.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.