If you’re finding yourself shaped more like a cashew than a human, you're not alone. Spending too much time on a laptop, smart phone, or iPad can cause some major posture problems. This is often referred to as 'tech neck'. It’s not the laptop’s fault, and we know you can't really avoid technology seeing as it's your livelihood and social life, but there are a lot of things you can do to correct the imbalances before they cause long-term problems.
So, what's the root cause of your forward head and rounded back? Speaking from your body’s perspective, there’s a few things going on...
1. When seated for too long, your hip flexors and hamstrings stay in a shortened position, throwing your back out of whack.
2. Your neck muscles get tight because your spine isn’t stacked up in the upright position like it's supposed to be.
3. Your shoulders are rounded forward from typing, texting, and holding objects in front of your body all day long.
Not convinced that you're spending "too much" time on your computer? Research proves that we can spend 40+ hours at our computers each week without batting an eyelash. And because of this, most of the population doesn’t get any FULL spinal extension (like a backbend) for weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time. Your nervous system and your body will contort to optimize the shapes that you spend the most time in. Both the software and hardware of our bodies can change in the positive or negative direction, it just depends on what inputs you give it.
Bottom Line? We’re meant to move! It's literally written in our DNA and atomic design.
We know you’re probably not getting rid of your laptop anytime soon, so here’s our top tips for helping correct the ol’ tech neck:
- Get your screen to eye level. Changing your setup changes your body and posture, and if you are looking straight ahead at the very least, you won’t be tempted to slump too much.
-Stand up! Then, sit down! Sure, ‘sitting is the new smoking’… But standing in one spot all day isn’t exactly wonderful either. You want varied ways to both sit and stand so you’re feeding some new information into your body all the time, and not convincing your brain that you only have one way to do things.
- Don’t zoom in with your head. Make sure you can easily see everything on your screen. Seems obvious, but people tend to lean in, literally, to important emails and tasks. Aim to keep your screen about 18” from your eyes, so you’re not squinting or leaning in.
While we’ve got some of the ergonomics out of the way, we can talk about what to do to get your body back on the right track, so you don’t end up shaped like a chair.
3 Techniques To Try At Home or At Work:
Upper neck: Grab your RAD Roller, it's time to give your neck a break by creating length in the back of the neck. Try this position below - Sink into the Roller, take deep breaths, and enjoy this position for about 60 seconds.
Upper Back: You'll need your Roller or Helix! Maybe we’re sounding like a broken record at this point, but the upper back is the foundation for both above and below. By performing this movement below, you can help mobilize your spine and relieve some of the tension surrounding it. Try doing a couple of backbends afterwords to really make the most of your range of motion!
SC Joint: Let's try our Rounds or Recovery Rounds for this one! We know this release isn’t seen much in the wild, but it’s amazing for opening up the upper back and neck. This joint connects the collarbone to the ribcage, and if you follow your collarbone towards the center, you’ll find them. The two bony prominences at the base of the neck, in the front. Make little smiley faces underneath the joint with one of the Rounds. You don’t need to work hard and deep, but you’ll see how it creates a huge opening effect in the front of the body!