Sunday, 10 April 2016

Tech Neck...and how yoga can help

'Tech Neck' was in the press this time last year, but it is only now that I am really seeing the negative effects on people's bodies when they come to class.

The symptoms may seem minor at first: headaches, pain in the neck, stiffness in the shoulders, a general ache in the upper body. Many people simply ignore the issue, putting it down to stress/tension, but if these symptoms are occuring with regularity you need to do something about it now.

If left, these problems can worsen, resulting in reduced strength and sensation in the fingers and hands plus backache that worsens with each passing year. If you are experiencing numbness and tension in your fingers you should see your GP, as it could be as a result of compressed nerves in your neck.

Our body is designed to support the (significant) weight of the head in an upright position. When the head is positioned forwards of the shoulders, even by a few degrees it increases the strain on the neck tenfold. The result is muscle contraction in the neck, reducing blood flow and decreased oxygen.

There are some simple things you can do to steer clear of 'Tech Neck'.

* Keep gadgets at eye level. Holding your phone, tablet, E-Reader at chest or waist level, causes you to look down at the device, bending the neck, rounding the shoulders and straining the spine. Move your eyes to the screen, not your whole head

* Practise yoga regularly to improve your posture. Through regular practise, you are imprinting correct alignment and good posture on your body, which results in good posture on and off the mat

* When working on a laptop or computer, make sure your back is straight and that your legs are at right angles and your arms too. Open your chest, soften your shoulders down away from your ears, lengthen your spine. Your computer screen should be high enough so you are not looking down. If your core and back muscles are weak, chances are you will end up slumping, rounding your back, head jutting something about it now before it becomes a serious problem

* Take little breaks from the screen. To remind you, set your phone to vibrate once every 20 minutes; look into the distance, roll your shoulders, extend, flex and rotate the neck. It's good for your eyes to have a break too! Also, use these breaks to check your posture

If you are unsure how to sit/stand with good posture then you need to get yourself along to an Iyengar Yoga class. Once the body is repeatedly moved into correct alignment, it will become second nature to you.

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