"Whenever you feel yourself getting stuck in the hunch, it’s time to take a break from whatever you’re doing, breathe, go on a short walk, and stretch out." – Lauren Roxburgh
An Honest Review
You’ve been doing the roll your head around, shake out your hands, twist your back stretches for the past hour with no results. So what gives? Body-alignment specialist Lauren Roxburgh tells Goop what we all know deep down – it’s a mindfulness issue. You get into the flow of working, you’re hunched over, typing around 40 wpm, every minute, and you’re not thinking about rolling your shoulders back and sitting up straight as a board in the boardroom. Roxburgh suggests adopting “the old saying ‘Keep your chin up’ as a mantra—not just for tough times but to remind you not to hunch forward and put pressure on your neck.” She also notes that poor posture and something as minor as a 15º downward tilt of the neck can add 20-30 extra pounds of pressure on your spine and neck.
As someone with scapular instability and a gnarly dislocated shoulder injury, I’m the poster child for tech neck and consistently doing the roll your neck back, hope for the best exercise. Until today. As I work primarily from my laptop, I decided to test out suggestions from a Self Magazine article entitled “6 Stretches To Relieve A Tight, Sore Neck”. Seems legitimate.
Seated Neck Release
Thirty seconds on each side of dropping my ear gently to my shoulder while seated (in the middle of a Brooklyn coffee shop might I add). This stretch provided minor relief. But after a few minutes of releasing, my shoulders naturally wanted to rise and tense right back up. Not terrible, not a cure-all. Great for a temporary fix.
Final Grade: C+
Seated Clasping Neck Stretch
Sat upright with a bit of a head rush and an insta-headache after the thirty seconds. But did I feel slightly better? Yes. My shoulders are feeling fairly relaxed and my neck has released a bit of tension.
Final Grade: B+
Behind the Back Neck Stretch
My mobility range in the neck has significantly increased after thirty seconds on each side. However, did I feel tingling in my hands and arms after? Yes. Yes I did. Assuming this is normal, I'll give this stretch an A-.
Final Grade: A-
Grounded Tipover Tuck
I had to leave the coffee shop for this one, though tempted I was to do it in the middle of the floor. After tucking and sitting back for 5 ten second intervals, I felt a long strong stretch in the back of the neck and arms. This one has given me pretty good mobility after completion. Definitely a whole lot of cracking in the neck and back when looking side to side after. Useful? Definitely. Accessible in the office? Not really. So for that it gets a B.
Final Grade: B
Seated Heart Opener
Another thirty seconds for this one. If you’re holding a lot of tension in your neck, this stretch can be pretty challenging, as it was for me. But it certainly opens up the shoulders and chest. Left it feeling my shoulders dropped and my neck slightly lengthened. Again, it’s getting a lower grade because of office accessibility.
Final Grade: B+
Thank goodness I’m a yogi because these last few are pushing it. However this one really felt good by the end. Still has the workplace issue – as dropping into a bridge during a meeting is probably frowned upon, but really left this pose feeling length throughout my spine and a real drop in my shoulders.
Final Grade: B+
All in all, the combination of these stretches did release some pent up tension, and I will certainly continue to use exercises 2 and 3 in the office. For the other stretches, I’d say do them at home if you’re still feeling that tension during the day and trying out a foam roller wouldn’t hurt either. Just remember, avoiding tech neck with simple mindfulness is probably best.