5 Simple Techniques To Undo Tech Neck For Instant Relief

Photo: @kylemilleryoga

People are aware of pain they have in their bodies; they just don't realize that much of it is coming from our collective addiction to technology. Yoga and meditation are great tools we can use to bring consciousness to parts of the body that have become habitually unconscious.

Our tech-alignment problem.

Looking at our phones and computers all day has adverse effects on our physical well-being. As people turn toward their electronics, the collarbones roll toward one another and the upper back rounds. At Love Yoga, we notice this when we teach: Students arrive at class, and they're sitting in a slump, sitting back on their tails with their front bodies concave, collarbones rolling toward one another, and chins dropped. We see this in ourselves after we've been working on our computers or even driving. Consciousness is the first step. We notice it, and we immediately try to pull ourselves and our students out of the habitual and into conscious embodiment.

Alignment-wise our chins are moving forward and down in space to better view our screens. A downward gaze causes us to slope, putting constant pressure on the cervical spine. Many of us experience mild to severe neck tension, headaches, and lower-back pain because of this. Using our fingers and wrists in a repetitive motion also causes inflammation in the wrist and thumb joint.

Try to notice when you are picking up your phone out of habit or necessity.

The more you can become aware of the habit, the easier it will be to break it. The best thing you can do is to make it a daily ritual to put the phone in another room, take a walk without your phone, and go to yoga or any other activity where you are not looking at your phone. We love yoga, surfing, and leaving the phone behind when we walk our dogs. From our perspective, it’s super important to balance time spent in front of technology with time spent in nature. The beach, a hike, sitting in the park, or even gazing at your plants—these things revitalize and refresh the spirit like nothing else.

Photo: @mikiash for @kylemilleryoga

Below are techniques both Sian, my co-teacher and business partner, and I use to help combat and reverse tech-tension:

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1. Don't stay in one position for too long.

Get up from your chair as much as you can. Work standing up. Take a break and sit when you need to, but the more time you spend on your feet, the better.

2. Release your lower back.

When seated, cross your ankle over the opposite knee and send breath into your hips. This will help release the lower back. You can use your chair and whatever else you have around you for a few twists throughout the day. Twists release the spine, help the function of the liver, and make more space for the lungs to expand.

3. Shake out your wrists.

You can start by shaking them softly but then speed it up and give them a hard shake up and down, side to side. This motion will bring blood to the area and release stagnation.

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4. Ground yourself.

Check in with yourself; make sure to move your head, neck, and shoulders around throughout the day to help counter "tech neck." Use your imagination to draw a line through your body from the crown of the head through the roof of the mouth and the heart and pelvic floor. This can completely shift your posture and give you a moment of embodied meditation, even if you are stuck at your desk. Close your eyes, turn on your imagination, and visualize a straight line, and within a few seconds, you’ll be sitting more upright and have a totally different feeling in your body.

5. Spread the collarbones and open the front body.

You can also interlace your hands behind the midback while seated to help spread the collarbones and arch the upper back. It’s the most accessible way to directly counter the postural effect of being at your desk or staring at your phone. To even out the back, place your hands shoulder-width or wider at your desk and take a forward fold, thinking about making a right angle with the body. Take a few breaths and let the head drop. This will take any rounding from screentime out of the upper back and help reset the front of the body.

In addition, gazing at nature soothes our strained eyes and calms the nervous system like nothing else. So does leaving your phone in the car and having dinner where you really connect with a friend. Rarely can the feeling of wholeness and natural sense of gratitude from a face-to-face connection with another person or from communing with nature be duplicated. And this feeling is the antidote to tech burnout. Seek it. Prioritize it. Schedule it.

If you're looking for things to do besides scroll through Instagram, check out this tech-free checklist that will nourish your soul (and your eyeballs).

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