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October 17, 2016

Say bye to 'tech neck': Simple stretches to avoid neck and shoulder pain

Mindful Mondays Wellness
10172016_tech_neck2 Photo courtesy/Christie Mandia


I am one of the millions of Americans walking around with chronic neck and shoulder pain. Chances are, if you sit at a computer all day or are constantly sandwiching a phone between your ear and your neck, you are one of them, too.

So many people are suffering from these symptoms, the condition has actually been given a street name: tech neck. Essentially, tech neck is the pain (and neck wrinkles – gasp!) caused by holding our tech devices at waist level, rather than eye level, and the discomfort and poor posture associated with those bad habits.

For years, the only relief I felt from my pain was after a reflexology or acupuncture treatment, but the reality is, those services aren’t always readily available when you really need them.

The good news is that I have found a few simple neck and shoulder stretches that you can do anytime, anywhere to instantly ease the pain without taking medicine or seeking professional help. Try these poses in your home, your office, or your gym whenever you feel the need.

Tech Neck Stretching Series

Remember, your best health is achieved when you are in tune and listening to your body, so take your time and breathe into each of these postures until you feel ready to move on to the opposite side or the next pose. Think about exhaling deeper into the pose as you proceed through the series. I typically stay in each position for 30-60 seconds.

Begin in seated position and interlock your fingers. Exhale, palms facing out, lengthen the arms and spine. Continue to breathe into this posture, trying to elongate the arms and spine.

Photos courtesy/Christie Mandia

Bring your palms together and reach your arms high above you. As you breathe, think about reaching higher and higher as if someone is pulling you from above.

With your arms tight to your ears, fall to the right and feel the stretch down your left side. Stay there and breathe as long as you need. Repeat on the left side.

Next, wrap your arms tightly around you and feel the stretch between your spine and your shoulder blades. Look up, look down, roll you neck around to get the most out of this pose.

With your arms in front of you, cross one arm over the other and lift your elbows until you feel a really good stretch behind your shoulder. When you are done, repeat on the opposite side.

Next, bring your left arm up and bend at the elbow so your fingers are relaxed the base of your neck. Bring your right hand to your left elbow and gently guide the muscle into a deeper stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Then, lock your hands behind your back and fall forward bringing your arms perpendicular to the ground. This is my favorite stretch. Hang out here as long as you need to.

Finally, end in child’s pose, knees under your chest, reach out in front of you as far as you can. As you sit there with your breath, think about walking your hands a few inches further and feel the stretch all the way down your back.

I hope these poses will be as helpful to you as they are to me. If nothing else, they will force you to be “unplugged” for the duration of the exercise. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do these things, as long as you are listening to your body. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Please feel free to share below or tweet me @christiemandia.

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