Is Your Computer Hurting Or Helping?
More and more, Americans are spending the majority of waking hours staring at screens. By some estimates, the average adult hits a keyboard up to 200,000 times per day. Over time, continually hunching forward to look at a computer can lead to rounded shoulders and a protruding neck. This is known as tech neck and is more of a risk if people don’t take time to stretch properly. Try these 4 simple stretches to decrease neck pain and lower the risk of tech neck.
1. Shoulder rolls
This stretch helps to counteract shoulder hunching and improves posture. To start, take an inhale and shrug the shoulders up to the ears. On the exhale, roll the shoulders back and lift the chest. Following the inhales and exhales, complete 10 reps.
2. Side stretches
Start by sitting up straight with the feet firmly planted on the floor. Slowly tilt the head and bring the right ear to the right shoulder. The ear and shoulder may not touch, and that’s okay. Feel the stretch on the left side of the neck. Try to think about rolling the left shoulder down away from the ear to deepen the stretch. Bring the head back to center and repeat on the other side.
3. Upper body twists
Scoot to the edge of the chair and keep the feet firmly planted on the floor. Bring the left hand to the back of the chair. Bring the right hand to the left thigh and slowly twist the torso toward the left. There should be a stretching sensation in the upper back. Hold for a breath or two and repeat on the other side.
4. Chest openers
Still seated at the edge of the chair, sit up tall and clasp the hands behind the body. Interlace all 10 fingers. Try to press the palms toward each other. On an inhale, start to lift the hands up and away from the lower back. There should be a stretching sensation in the chest, shoulders, and upper back. For a deeper stretch, possibly try tilting the chin toward the ceiling to open the chest and shoulders.
Exercises to avoid
While many fitness classes will incorporate neck circles into stretching sequences, this movement is not recommended for people with neck pain. Research has shown that neck rolls can put unnecessary stress on the spine and may even increase compression of the arteries at the neck.
Prevent tech neck
Working at a computer may be unavoidable. But technology doesn’t have to mean tech neck. Try to perform these 4 exercises at least once daily and take breaks to move around at least once an hour. For more tips or treatment for neck pain, speak with an orthopedic specialist.