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WISDOM WITHIN - June 2017 - Kansas City
Heal Tech Neck – Hold your Head High
By Suzette Scholtes
As I walked into the chiropractor’s office, a young man sat with his head dropped forward, his neck red and inflamed. The teen was suffering from tech neck. Most think this is common for the older folks but appears to spare no one these days.
Just how much load does that constant downward-looking gaze put on the neck muscles? When your spine is in neutral position, the head weighs about 10-12 pounds. At 15 degrees forward, the neck sees 27 pounds. At 45 degrees, it sees 49 pounds. That’s a lot of weight stress on muscles and nerves that are meant to handle 10-12 pounds of stress, and that much load can do a lot of damage over time. Not only that, you get wear and tear on the spine, even developing tears within the disc, or even get a slipped or herniated disc. There may be tingling or numbing down the arm and into the hands.
To put this in perspective, imagine holding a 10-pound weight in your hand. Now hold that for an hour, which is not a far stretch for how long we look at devices. Now exchange the weight for a 60-pound dumbbell. Most people would only last for a few minutes, yet we demand our neck muscles to do this for hours on a daily basis.
Most people display subtle signs of tech neck — like soreness or stiffness at the end of the day— before it really becomes an issue. But those same subtle signs are the ones that often get dismissed or ignored until they become bigger issues. If you have neck pain or soreness one day and it doesn’t return, this is not an issue or a sign of tech neck. But if you experience a sore neck, headache, or get numbness and tingling every day or every week, these are all possible signs of tech neck that should not be ignored.
When one does preventive yoga or massage or some physical therapy, most do much better to prevent problems. Our gang at the Yoga School spent a weekend with an advanced teacher of yoga therapy to learn preventive methods. They so work. Some ideas:
Avoid keeping the device at chest or waist-level. That causes shoulders to round and muscles to tighten. Use holders or devices to keep the device more to eye level. As I look at my screen now, the ergonomics used here keep my view at eye level.
Take breaks when the day is intense with devices. Set a timer and get away from the keyboard and screen every 45 minutes or so.
Research the yoga poses which counter the forward action of the head. Lay over a pillow or small foam roller to counter the forward action or try an easy cobra pose. We use foam bricks and many methods of keeping shoulders back and head in alignment.
Find a good massage therapist who will help release tightness in the back, neck, and shoulders.
Yoga is an excellent remedy for tech neck. However, find a certified teacher who really knows how to help. There is much to learn about healing neck and shoulders. Or come on over and we’ll take care of you!
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Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,