There is a good chance that you are reading this post with your phone or tablet. As a result, your neck is likely not in the best position. Today, we spend most of our time using some type of electronic device going through our e-mail, news, and social media accounts. To add, the global pandemic has created a huge demand for the use of technology. We learned to use our phones to interact with our friends and family, shopping, education, and social interactions. Therefore, our screen time has increased dramatically. Over time, we adapt this “hunched back” position. This is something we nerds call “Tech Neck”.
What is Technical Neck and How Does It Affect Your Health?
Tech neck (cervical kyphosis) is an often painful condition that results from the hunched-back position shown above. Specifically that many people are in while using their electronic devices. Looking down and scrolling through your phone increases the loads on your cervical spine (neck). It is important to understand that your head weighs approximately 11lbs or 5kg which is approximately 8% of your total body weight! Bending your neck downward for a long time, you create a lot of pressure build-up in your spinal discs. As a result, this creates a lot of strain on your neck muscles and can even lead to disc herniations.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common symptoms that arise from having bad neck postures can include; neck pain, radiating pain, muscular strain, numbness and tingling, headaches, stiffness, spinal wear, and tear. Above all, if not treated properly and unchecked can lead to an abnormal curvature of the cervical spine.
How to Get Instant Neck Pain Relief?
If there is no way to reduce your screen time and you continue to have neck pain, you can do these 3 easy neck stretches anywhere! A great way to get rid of your neck pain and improve your flexibility.
# 1 Upper Trapezius Stretch
- Proper Form: Begin by keeping your head in the middle or chin tuck position. Next, move your head towards one side with the help of your hand for light overpressure.
- Why is this Important: We constantly maintain a flexed cervical spine (bent over) posture throughout our day. Therefore, your muscles have to work overtime to keep your head up. These muscles include the cervical flexors, cervical paraspinal muscle group, upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and sternocleidomastoid. Once they become over fatigued, they may begin to tighten up causing neck pain, headaches, and stiffness. This exercise helps to stretch the most commonly affected muscle, the upper trapezius, thereby relieving tension from your cervical spine. First, get yourself comfortable with the motion before counting the reps. Remember to relax your body and sit up nice and tall before beginning this stretch. Start with 5 repetitions in each direction with 20 sec holds and hold a comfortable stretch. Then, You can increase your hold time up to 30 seconds once you are comfortable. You can always add this stretch to your current workout program or do it with the other exercises we will discuss below.
#2 LEVATOR SCAPULAE STRETCH
- Proper Form: First, tilt your head to the side, then rotate to the side, then look downward as in looking at your armpit. Then, use your hand to pull your head downward and towards the opposite side for a gentle stretch. Finally, You should be looking towards your opposite pocket of the target side. You should feel a gentle stretch at the side/back of your neck.
- Why is this Important: This is a very important muscle that is responsible for elevating your shoulder blade (scapula). It also works together with the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, pectoralis, and rhomboids, to extend and bend your head to the side. Once, you strain the levator scapulae muscle, it can cause tightness, neck pain, and stiffness. This exercise is designed to stretch this vital muscle thereby relieving tension from your head and neck. First, get yourself comfortable with the motion before counting the reps. Remember to relax your body and sit up nice and tall before beginning this neck stretch. Start with 5 repetitions with 20 sec holds and hold a comfortable stretch. Then, You can increase your hold time up to 30 seconds once you are comfortable. You can throw this into your current work-out program or do it with the other exercises we will discuss below.
#3 Chin Tuck
- Proper Form: First, place a finger on your chin. Pull your chin and head straight back while your finger is not moved until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. There should be a distance between your finger and the chin. Hold for 5 seconds, if you can, and then release your chin forward. Repeat at least 10 to 15 times.
- Why is this Important: Chin tuck is a simple exercise you can do at your counter, during your classes, or even at the bus stand. This simple stretch will strengthen the front neck muscles and help increase spinal awareness to help pull your head back into alignment.
Some Tips to Prevent Neck Pain from Bad Postures
- Phone holding position: Keep your head in a neutral position and bring your phone/screen to eye level.
- Take phone/electronic device breaks: Frequent breaks from the screen can help, even if it’s just two to three minutes every hour.
- Add these 3 easy neck stretches to your daily exercise routine.
We went over 3 easy neck stretches for the most important neck muscles in your body that you can do anywhere. We should continue to use the benefits of technology, know how to manage our spine health, and prevent injury. These 3 neck stretches we covered are a great way to restore the natural motion of your neck and keep it healthy! If you have persistent pain or no relief from these exercises you can consult with a board-certified physical therapist on our platform now offering a FREE virtual consultation or talk to your healthcare provider immediately.