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Pain in the neck

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Don’t stress, just stretch; at least in the case of ‘tech neck’. Pearl Mathias brings you simple exercises to deal with the niggling effects of living in a constantly connected world

Given that we live in a digitally connected age, consider yourself lucky if you don’t suffer from the symptoms of tech neck syndrome. Whether it’s due to us peering down at our phones for hours on end or settling into comfortable (but unhealthy) postures as we binge-watch our favourite shows, our generation is plagued by what has been aptly termed ‘tech neck’.

Now, we can easily pass off the recurrent headaches, the numbness in our fingers and the strain on our neck as part of the common stresses of daily life, but if these continue to occur over a period of weeks, it’s time you take notice and stretch it out. Here are a few simple exercises to help you tackle tech neck and get back to good posture. And through your day, consider ungluing yourself from your screen and looking up and into the distance every ten minutes or so. Another simple solution is to hold your phone up to eye level so that there’s less of a strain on your neck. Whenever you get the time in the day, engage in these exercises, which will do your neck some good.

Side to side

  • Stand with your back and spine straight and look straight ahead.
  • Place your right hand on the back of your neck. Move your head downwards so that you are looking down in the arm pit of your right arm while you extend your left arm out to the left of your body.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

One up

  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Make sure that your knees are not bent.
  • Place one foot on top of the other, with your heel on your toes.
  • Place your hands on your neck and slowly bend forward. You should feel a deep nerve stretching all the way through your hamstrings, spine and neck.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Make sure you stretch very slowly.
  • Switch leg positions and repeat.

Tuck it in

  • Stand straight and look straight ahead.
  • Place the first two fingers of your right hand on your chin and slowly push your chin backwards. This helps mobilize the cervical vertebrae in your neck because they can become stuck in the forward leaning position. 
  • Do about 10 reps and then take a break.
  • For best results, perform this exercise three or four times a day.

Angel wings

  • Stand with your back to a wall and your arms raised and at your sides at shoulder level, hands pointing towards the ceiling. Your elbows should be bent and at a 90-degree angle.
  • Slowly extend your arms up as high as you can. But make sure that the back of your head, your entire back, the backs of your forearms and your wrists maintain contact with the wall.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.
  • Repeat eight to 10 times and as slowly as possible. Do three sets of this exercise.
  • This will help to develop good scapular (shoulder blade) stability and maintain good upper back posture.

Don’t back down

  • Stand next to a wall with your left forearm against the wall and your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Make sure your elbow is slightly higher than shoulder level.
  • Slowly step forward with your left foot and turn your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch across your chest.
  • Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
  • This exercise will stretch your pectoral (chest) muscles, which will stretch and open up the anterior chain of muscles that tend to shorten because of continuous phone use.
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