How To Fix That Hunched Over Posture Caused By Tech Neck
By: Lauren Keating
With our shoulders rounded, our eyes look down with our heads tilting forward on our phones in a hunched position for endless hours. As a result, more and more people suffer from “tech neck,” a metaphoric nickname for poor posture resulting from extended use of our technical devices.
“It’s the latest posture trend,” certified postural specialist Michael Boshnack said. “We see that people at a younger and younger age on their phones, and it contributes to misalignment throughout the body and poor posture.”
Boshnack explains that “tech neck” is caused by muscle imbalances—specifically affecting the trapezius and rhomboids, the neck and shoulder muscles responsible for extending the neck, stabilizing the shoulders, and influencing posture.
According to the Orange County, CA specialist, some muscles become inhibited and cannot fire correctly. Some muscles are too short and tight from being overworked—in this case, the chest muscles—whereas the opposite muscle becomes too long and weak from underuse.
“With tech neck, the ear is going to deviate and be in front of the line, creating stress and tension on the entire spine,” he explained. As a result, the spine loses its “S” curve and, consequently, its ability to absorb shock during weight-bearing movements, causing a slumped-over, extended neck posture that leaves tension in the neck and back.
Instead of treating just the upper body, it’s essential to look at working on muscle imbalances throughout the body as a whole. Tech neck also causes issues with the posterior muscle chain. This includes problems with the psoas muscle, the “powerhouse” hip muscles on either side of the lower lumbar spine that extend through the pelvis.
“The king of your entire body is the psoas. If it’s not getting along with the queen, it creates tension from front to back and throws off the entire mechanism” explains Boshnack.
Stretching the psoas is crucial because it’s “the most important muscle” when working on posture. To do so, lunge with one knee stacked over the ankle and the other leg straight behind the body. Lift the chest out while slightly leaning back to feel that stretch in the hips.
Boshnack, who helps fix posture on his online platform “Posture Guy Mike,” advised first getting the hips and pelvis into alignment to strengthen the body’s foundation and improve poor upper body posture. Think about rising from a seated position from the hips, not using the arms. Let the hips drive the movement when climbing up the stairs.
Work with a medical professional who can identify and treat posture deviations to feel and see results instantly. The bad news is that tech neck can quickly return because of our repeated poor posture habits.
The good news it can be corrected with the movements recommended by Boshnack:
• Activate the Glutes
Activating the gluteus maximus is all about having that mind-to-muscle connection. Consciously think about engaging this muscle during movements. Stand feet hip distance apart with a relaxed stomach to allow for a healthy spine curve. Take a deep breath and lean forward with the shoulder blades back. Squeeze the glutes as if “you’re cracking a walnut.” Release and repeat.
• Activate The Psoas
Standing with feet in a pigeon toe position, interlace the fingers behind the heads and pull the elbows back. Squeeze the shoulder blades together, relaxing the stomach.
• Arm Circles
With hands out to the sides, lengthen by reaching out with the hands and squeeze the shoulder blades together, making sure the shoulder blades are down—not elevated up with a tense neck—and pinned together. Perform 20 arm circles at a fast pace in about a six-inch plane. Rotate the thumbs backward and repeat.
“These exercises will restore you the more you do them,” Boshnack said. “They don’t break down and tear any muscle. So they can be done every single day and twice a day.”