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Tech Neck – Tackling neck and shoulder pain
I massage all sorts of people in my work as a Kneader Onsite Massage therapist, both in offices and at events, so I see every make and model of adult and no matter how varied their lives, they increasingly have one thing in common these days – the discomfort of ‘Tech Neck’, also known as ‘Text Neck’.
When I mention the term to my clients, they always seem surprised that their condition not only has a name but is also shared by others in nearly epidemic proportions. I suppose that although Smartphones have been a part of our lives for some time now, it has taken several years for the physical effects of constantly looking at a screen (TV, iPads, PCs, Smartphones) to trickle down into affecting our daily wellbeing.
This excellent article (below) fully illustrates the pressure put on the neck and spine when we look down to check our phones, even for 15 minutes – the same can be said for slouching at a desk or on a sofa for hours on end. So, make no mistake about it, we will be hearing more and more about the malady that is ‘tech neck’, and that’s because we simply cannot put the IT genie back in the bottle. Technology has taken centre stage in human existence and subsequently, our lives have become more sedentary, which is not what we were physically designed for and that is proving to be a costly disparity.
But there are ways of keeping well in the face of technology and these points are just some of the advice I give to my clients.
- DO get up and move about for a minimum of 5 minutes of every hour you sit – sitting is now the new smoking in that it is extremely damaging to your health.
- DO stretch – little and often throughout your day can work wonders. Exercise is great but I am always shocked at how many people will go and sweat doing intense exercise for 90 minutes and then return to their desks and not move for the next six hours! I always provide my new clients with a desk stretch sheet and we are putting a series of stretches on our website for all to use. Really, really, really – it is so important to be limber because even gym bunnies can pull a muscle or put out their backs if they don’t stretch regularly.
- DO get regular massage! Yep, it really does work and feels great, which is why I’m on a mission for everyone to own a Kneader at home for quick and easy 5-10 minutes of home massage a day. Of course, nothing will ever replace a professional giving you a session, so I suggest a mixture of both, which is why I also get regular massage. Yes, me! I believe in practising what I preach and make sure I get regular chair massage from colleagues.
- DO remember my words – “Boobs to the sky”! Sitting in front of a PC all day or slouched looking at your device hunches you over, which shortens your pectorals and causes what I call ‘crab shoulders”. Get proud about your chest and reach it towards the sky – it will open up your pecs, pull your shoulders back and set your head and gaze straight, which is the way we are meant to be.
- DO read with your eyes, not your neck – seriously, the constant tilting of the neck down is bad news for your body, so either hold your device up to your natural eye level or tilt your eyes down whilst keeping your head upright.