By @chrisbardawil founder of @coreflexpilates
We are all constantly looking down at our phones. Google estimates there are between 5 to 6 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2022, and this number is growing. Most of us spend an average of 3 to 4 hours per day on our devices, with 20% of us spending 5 hours or more.
Smart phones are life changing devices that help us in countless ways but we have overlooked a major downside which is bad posture. We hear a lot of news about mental health problems from phone use but little attention is drawn to how its affecting our posture and causing repetitive strain injuries in our hands and wrists.
“Tech neck” is a term used to describe the neck and shoulder soreness from tucking your head down over your chin and looking down at a phone or laptop screen. This causes the muscles in the back of your head to contract to hold up your head.
So how can we reduce this phone/tech neck stress? Firstly limiting time on your phone is the best prevention - reduce the amount of notifications you have on and delete or limit the time you spend consuming apps. Next thing is to hold the phone up to our faces rather than looking down at it. This seems hard at first but gradually it can become habit.
We can also add some stretches in to relieve the tightness in the head, neck, shoulders and arms.
Pull your shoulders up to your ears and hold for 5 seconds, then drop your shoulders down and relieve all the tension in that area. Repeat 2x
Sit down on a chair with an upright posture, interlace your hands above your head and reach up to the ceiling. Then bend side to side holding each side for 5 seconds.
Stand upright and relax your shoulders down away from your ears as much as possible. Then pull your ear down to your shoulder creating a stretch in the outside of the neck. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 2x each side.
Stand or sit upright, then interlace your fingers behind your head or neck. From there pull your elbows back until you feel a stretch on your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Sit on a chair with your feet down hip width distance apart, then fold yourself forward and let your head hand between your legs. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
You don’t have to do all of these stretches, see which ones work for you and help the most with the tightness you may have developed from using your phone or laptop. These are also good stretches to use for general neck and shoulder tension.
While these stretches can help relieve tension, prevention is the best form of defence. Focus on reducing your phone usage, holding the phone up to your eyes rather than looking down at it, and building your upper back muscles so that your posture is held upright naturally throughout the day.