Gently undo the damage of tech neck with these five easy stretches.
When we’re tapping and scrolling away on our phones and laptops, we’re usually guilty of poor posture. This constant strain of looking down at our screens hunched over eventually takes a toll on our neck and shoulders.
The term “tech neck” refers to a repetitive strain injury of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae of the neck that occurs from being in a hunched over posture. The head typically weighs 10-12 lbs, but when you start to tilt your head down and forward to look at something, that weight can increase up to 60 lbs! (1, 2)
If you constantly find your neck in this position and you’re starting to feel pain and soreness, you may have tech neck. Here are the most common signs of tech neck:
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- Neck pain – Since looking down puts so much extra weight on the neck, pain can occur when you’re constantly looking down at your phone or computer.
- Stiffness and limited neck mobility – Consistent strain in the neck leads to muscle tension and a lack of flexibility in the neck muscles.
- Aches in shoulders and upper back – When we look down, the shoulders hunch forward, causing tightness and pain in the upper back and shoulders.
- Chronic headaches – Strain in the neck can lead to inflammation which can irritate the nerves in the head and neck and lead to headaches. (3)
- Radiating pain, numbness, or tingling – Allowing strain to worsen can lead to compression of the nerves in your neck, which can cause radiating pain, numbness, and tingling down the arms to the fingers. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor.
If looking at a phone or computer is a consistent part of your daily routine, these stretches can help reverse the damage. For best preventative results, do these stretches daily and as always, try to keep your proper posture in mind.
5 Stretches to Reverse Tech Neck
Chin Tuck | 10 reps
This exercise brings your head and neck back into proper alignment. Do this stretch regularly to improve your neck strength and flexibility.
- Begin sitting upright in a chair with your feet on the ground and your palms face down in your lap. Look straight ahead.
- Slowly pull your chin and head back until your ears are stacked over your shoulders and you feel a stretch through the top of the neck. Hold for five seconds. You’ll feel like you’re giving yourself a double chin.
- Then, allow your head to go back into its natural position.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
Exaggerated Nod | 5 reps
This stretch reverses a forward head posture by bringing the neck and shoulders back.
- Begin sitting on the ground with your hips on your heels. If this is uncomfortable, simply sit in a chair instead. Keep your neck neutral and look up at the ceiling with your eyes. Your lips should be closed without tension in the jaw.
- Open your mouth to let your jaw hang open, then tilt your head up and back.
- Stay here for five seconds. You can close your mouth again to feel a deeper stretch through your neck.
- Lift your head back up to a neutral position and close your mouth.
- Repeat for five reps.
Bound Neck Rolls | 10 reps
Simple neck rolls, like in this bound version, helps decrease tightness while improving mobility.
- Begin standing or sitting. Look straight ahead and relax your shoulders.
- Interlace your fingers behind your lower back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to feel a stretch through your chest.
- Tilt your right ear down towards your right shoulder. Then, very slowly roll your chin down towards your chest and all the way up until your left ear is over your left shoulder.
- Roll your chin back down to your chest and then all the way up to the right. If you feel any extra tight spots, stop and hold it on the spot for a few seconds.
- Continue rolling side-to-side for 10 reps.
Wall Angels | 10 reps
It’s like snow angels, but against the wall! Just 10 reps will work to bring your neck into proper alignment while strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades that become week from a hunched posture.
- Stand up straight with your head and back against a wall, feet hip-width distance apart.
- Raise your arms to shoulder height and bend your elbows to 90 degrees, coming into cactus arms.
- Slowly slide your arms up the wall to reach up over your head, then slide them back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
Down Dog | 30 secs
Downward facing dog uses gravity to bring the spine back into alignment while relieving tension in the neck and shoulders.
- Begin in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your fingers spread wide. Engage your abs.
- Inhale to lift your hips up towards the sky to bring your body into an upside down V-shape.
- Roll your biceps forward and lift your tailbone up. Keep your neck long and relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds.
(Your Next Workout: 5 Yoga Poses to Awaken Your Hips After Sitting All Day)