Let’s wind it back 50 years ago.
No smartphones, no computers, no laptops, no iPads, and definitely no Netflix.
It’s now 2023, and we all have all of those things.
Now, the intention with this blog is not to convey that these things are inherently bad – they’re not. What our intention is, however, is that the way we use these devices significantly affect our body, and we don’t even know it.
When we use our phones, our neck is craned over. When we use our laptops and iPads, our neck is craned over. When we watch Netflix, we’re often lying on our couch with pillows pushing our head up so we can see the screen, again, with our head craned over.
The craning of the head, or forward head carriage, or ‘tech neck’ is the real issue. Why is this so?
The bowling ball
Imagine a bowling ball. They are very heavy. Which would be harder on your body? When you hold a bowling ball close to your body? Or when you hold it with your arms straight out?
The answer is clear – arms straight out. When this happens, our arm and shoulder muscles are doing all of the heavy lifting because of how far away from our centre of mass it is. Compare that to holding the bowling ball against your body, it’s closer to our centre of mass, making it far easier to hold.
The same goes for your head (the bowling ball), and your neck (your arm and shoulder muscles). The amount of pressure this puts on your spine is unbelievable…
For every 15 degrees the head moves forward in relation to the shoulders, its weight increases by approximately 5-7kg.
Just like in the bowling ball analogy, how much tension do you think this is putting on the joints, muscles and nerves in the neck and upper back?
So why is this an issue?
For what it does to the body.
When our head is in that forward position, the pressure on the joints in the neck is high, and it gets worse the longer we hold our heads in that position.
It starts with pain and stiffness. You may even be getting headaches due to the muscles working overtime.
After some time, your body adapts to being in that forward position, and so your posture then gets affected. As we know from this blog LINK, posture has more of an effect on our bodies than we can imagine, for example our lung capacity.
As we hold our heads in this position day in and day out, we begin to get wear and tear of the joints – this is known as arthritis. Other similar conditions include disc degeneration, compressed discs and muscle weakness.
Have someone take a photo of you side on standing in your neutral position. How far forward is your head in relation to your shoulders?
If it’s forward even an inch, do you think you should take action and start to do something about it? (Hint: the answer is yes).