Updated: May 12
Do you suffer from soreness and stiffness in your neck and shoulders? Read this article to learn tips and exercises to help get rid of the pain today.
For most people, it's impossible to avoid using smartphones, computers, and tablets. While these tools make our lives a little easier, they also force us into unnatural positions that can lead to tech neck.
Luckily, there are several ways to address this issue, and even avoid it to begin with. Here are my top recommendations as a physical therapist.
What is Tech Neck?
Tech neck can occur when you spend long periods of time looking at a screen. This condition is the result of looking downward and holding your head in one position for too long.
Tech neck can also cause neck wrinkles. Since neck skin is relatively thin with a powerful layer of muscles underneath, repeatedly holding your neck in this position can easily lead to tech neck wrinkles - horizontal lines across your neck.
Exercises to Get Rid of Tech Neck
1. Chin Tucks
Find an empty wall, then stand in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your upper spine against the wall. Pull your head straight back so that it touches the wall, keeping your chin tucked the entire time.
Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
2. Scapular Retraction
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your neck, shoulders, arms, and jaw relaxed. Now rotate your shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades back toward the wall behind you, then down toward the ground.
Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
*The Theragun Prime is great for a deep tissue massage. With different speed levels, this can help target muscle fatigue and pain.
3. Upper Trapezius Stretch
From a seated position, sit up tall with your spine straight. Relax your shoulders and neck muscles.
Tip your head to the right, bringing your right ear toward your right shoulder. Avoid turning your head by keeping your gaze straight ahead. You should feel a stretch along the left side of your neck and shoulder. [*]
Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three times per side.
4. Corner Pectoralis Stretch
Find an accessible corner of the room. Stand facing the corner, then put one bent leg forward and one leg back in a lunge position. Put one hand on each wall, with your hands above your head, arms outstretched.
Avoid stretching out too far - you should maintain a bend in the elbow and keep your shoulders relaxed. Then, lean forward until you feel a stretch across your chest.
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Dr. Dawn's Favorite Tools for Tech Neck:
Tips to Help You Get Rid of And Avoid Tech Neck
1. Take Frequent Rest Breaks
The longer you sit in one position hunched over a screen, the more likely you are to get develop tech neck. So give yourself lots of quick breaks - a few minutes away from your computer, smartphone, or tablet every 30 minutes. This is also a great time to complete the exercises mentioned above.
*The Thera Cane can help eliminate painful knots in your muscles. It is a great relaxation tool designed for easing aches and pains.
2. Be Mindful of Your Posture
Your posture is how you hold your body, whether you're in movement or staying still. When you hunch over a computer screen, you're likely forgetting your posture entirely. So be mindful and check in with yourself regularly.
Follow these tips for good posture:
Relax your shoulders down and away from your face.
Keep your thighs parallel to the floor when sitting.
Keep your feet on the floor rather than crossing your legs.
3. Optimize Your Workspace
The height of your desk and chair also determine your posture. You can adjust their setup to ensure you can use your devices while maintaining proper posture.
Your computer screen should be at eye height so that you're not looking down to use it. You can either get an adjustable desk or get an adjustable monitor stand to accomplish this.
You can also adjust your chair for better posture. The chair should be high enough that your thighs are parallel to the ground and you can sit with your feet flat on the floor.
4. Consider Getting a Standing Desk
Sitting for a long time can increase your chances of tech neck. By using a standing desk, you can alternate between sitting and standing. This can help to eliminate stress on the neck because it's easier to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed while you stand.
5. See a PT
The best way to treat tech neck and neck pain is to get expert help. A physical therapist can create a customized routine to help improve your stiff neck, poor posture, and more.
Your PT may also recommend that you exercise regularly to help build muscles. This can also help you maintain proper posture and avoid strain on the neck.
How to Get Rid of Tech Neck
Tech neck also leads to horizontal lines on the neck. Aside from improving your posture with the tips above, there are additional things you can do to treat and minimize wrinkled skin. Try adding the following to your skincare routine:
Neck Cream: There are certain topical creams formulated just for horizontal neck lines. Look for ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol. [*]
Sun protection: The sun causes wrinkles and other forms of skin aging. Protect your skin by using sunscreen or covering up the neck area when outdoors.
Moisturize: Keeping the skin on your neck moisturized can help lessen the appearance of deep lines. Hyaluronic acid is a great addition to your regular moisturizer if you want to up that skin hydration.
*Sombra Warm Therapy can be used to help relieve minor aches and pains. It includes warming and cooling ingredients with a refreshing orange scent.
Whether you want to combat tech neck wrinkles or pain, you'll need to dedicate some time each day to deal with tech neck. By incorporating the above tips into your daily routine and tracking them, you'll start feeling better soon. And, if you don't, be sure to see a physical therapist to get more specialized treatment.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.