Tech neck is caused by looking down at a device for long periods of time, leading to stiffness, soreness and pain. These yoga stretches will help you relieve aching muscles.
Technology helps us connect, accomplish tasks, advance our career and more. But staring down at screens also has consequences for the body, including stiffness, pain and injury to the neck. After a long day of working on my computer, I notice that my neck aches, my shoulders are tight and I sometimes have a headache. Have you experienced this too? “Tech neck” or “text neck” occurs when the muscles and structure of the neck are strained from staring down at a laptop, tablet or phone.
According to the NewYork-Presbytarian medical group, Americans spent a daily average of 7 hours and 50 minutes with digital media in 2020. When you look down at your device, the amount of weight your neck has to support increases from roughly 10 pounds to 50 pounds. Maintaining that posture for extended periods of time can cause headaches, stiffness, muscle spasms, neck, jaw and shoulder pain, and even numbness or tingling down your arms from irritation and inflammation.
Taking breaks in between virtual meetings, emails, texting and scrolling on social media to stretch and move your body can help keep the connective tissue (fascia) smooth and release tight muscles to reduce stiffness and pain. Ready to loosen up? This 12-minute video includes top stretches to incorporate into your day. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor before exercising.
If you don’t have time to complete the video, you can choose a few of the postures laid out below. You can also do yoga poses at your desk.
Poses to incorporate throughout your day:
Side to side neck movements: Gently move your head side to side gazing over each shoulder
Forward and back neck movements: Gently move your head forward and back gazing up to the ceiling and down toward the floor tucking your chin
Neck side stretch: Stretch the side of your neck by wrapping your arm around your head and guiding your head to one side. You can extend the other arm out to the side to deepen the stretch
Shoulder circles: Move your shoulders in circles forward 10 times and then back 10 times
Cat (marjariasana)/ cow (bitilasana): From a table top position (bharmanasana), inhale to drop your belly, open up through your chest and extend your spine for cow pose (bitilasana). Exhale to round your spine and gently let your chin come toward your chest for cat pose (marjariasana)
Puppy pose (anahatasana): From a table top position (bharmanasana), walk your arms forward and let your heart melt toward the mat
Cobra (bhujangasana): Lower your belly down to the ground. Press the tops of your feet on the mat. Walk your palms near your chest. Press through your palms as you lift your chest up and begin straightening your arms
Down facing dog (adho mukha svanasana): From a plank pose (phalakasana), lift your hips toward the ceiling, lengthen your spine and release tension in your neck
Forward fold (uttanasana): from downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), bend your knees, look forward and step to the top of your mat with your feet hip distance apart. Let your head hang heavy to release tension in your neck
Now that you’ve gotten the blood flowing and moved your body, how do you feel? It’s important to maintain proper form and alignment while using technology to keep your body pain-free. Comment below to tell me which poses helped you find the most release and share these movements with your coworkers, family and friends after your next digital get together.