For more than the past year, we’ve been mired in the COVID pandemic, which has stolen the show from many other glaring health epidemics that threaten the human race. In my eyes, a key one is a health condition known as tech neck, also referred to as text neck, computer neck, forward head posture, dowager’s hump, upper cross syndrome (sometimes spelled “upper crossed syndrome”) and even more names.
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen tech neck many times in your life and with increasing regularity in the past decade, as smartphones have become practically ubiquitous parts of daily life. One time I saw a 12-year-old boy exhibit such an extreme case of tech neck I almost jumped out of my shoes! Forward head posture affects all generations, but it’s bearing down on youths and 20-somethings these days likely more than any other generation in human history.
Let’s explore tech neck, a highly prevalent health condition, and present a solution for how to fix tech neck via special tech neck exercises that actually work to correct posture throughout your whole body.
What Is Tech Neck and What Causes Tech Neck?
Tech neck, text neck and computer neck are newfangled terms for forward head posture, or the condition in which the head is positioned in front of the body’s midline. We see this kind of posture more than ever when people use smartphones, but it’s also on display when people use laptop computers without external monitors or keyboards and mice or trackpads as well as tablet computers. We also see this kind of posture when people read books, magazines and newspapers, as most usually point their heads downward, and even when school students take tests and jot down notes. Additionally, when people eat from a plate or bowl, they often drape their heads down a fair amount of time over the course of a day. When you spend dozens of minutes or many hours a day in a suboptimal posture and do nothing to correct forward head posture, you’re at risk of having this posture become part of your everyday life experience. Check out my stories on proper sitting posture and proper standing posture in case you spend a lot of time working while in these positions.
Stand outside on a gorgeous spring day, the kind of magnificent day when everyone’s wearing shorts and T-shirts or tank tops, and you’ll see such a huge range of postures that it’s practically impossible to know, without study, what human beings’ actual posture should look like. On its surface, posture might not appear to be the sexiest subject, but I’d bet, a long time ago, it was a key determining factor with regard to mating decisions. Back then, family names, careers, bank accounts, houses and cars weren’t things, and people were much more perceptive about health and nature than they are now. After all, who would choose a weakly muscled person with a dowager’s hump when a ripped person with tip-top posture is standing right beside, towering in presence and brimming with confidence—with a couple of hands of bananas in tow thanks to tree-climbing prowess?
The reality is, very few folks know what optimal human posture looks like, and even many anatomy books get it wrong because so few people on the planet—if anyone, actually—can match the perfect posture in the following illustration. The true human body design is for our load-bearing joints—shoulders, hips, knees and ankles—to stack horizontally and vertically, the latter of which is shown here. Additionally, our ears should stack over these joints, with our necks in line as well.
How Prevalent Is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is much more common than you might think. One study of dentists discovered that 86 percent were affected by forward head posture. Additionally, one study of students found a 73 percent prevalency rate, and another study of students showed a prevalency rate of 64 percent.
Knowing what I do about posture and joint alignment—based on years of study and working with clients as part of my Posture Exercises Method along with observation of people on the street to athletes and TV and movie stars on screen—I’d put this tech neck prevalency rate even higher.
To boot, tech neck is causing a real pain in the neck financially for Americans, with neck and lower-back pain treatment costs totaling $87.6 billion in 2013. Next to spending on cancer, diabetes and heart disease, this whopping amount ranked fourth among public and private disease spending, according to an Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation study. And this spending was rising dramatically, with spending on neck and lower-back pain treatment soaring 6.5 percent compared with 3.5 percent for spending across the board on other diseases, the study found.
With all these people chasing symptoms, I wonder how many of them, with all this spending, actually address the root cause(s) and get better.
What Are Tech Neck Symptoms?
Tech neck symptoms can range from acute to chronic neck pain and vary widely in severity, with age and physical fitness levels serving as contributing factors. When the head is angled forward in forward head posture for a measurable amount of time, this stress on the body can unpack itself in many different ways.
Let’s look at an example. Jill loves reading her local big-city newspaper each morning on her tablet, devouring section after section for about 45 minutes. This time comes at the expense of any morning physical activity. She spends the bulk of her day as a public relations specialist, working from a laptop computer for a significant amount of time, inputting copious notes during frequent staff meetings and while interviewing professors at the university at which she works. She also relies on her smartphone for several hours a day, especially during frequent events, craning her neck down while in communication with news media and colleagues.
In her free time, she uses her laptop a significant amount of time, exploring topics about which she’s interested, and doesn’t use an external monitor or keyboard-mouse setup. She’s also on her phone a lot, engaging with friends on several social media platforms. She likes to watch TV many nights in bed and cranes her neck forward using thick rolled-up pillows.
All told, Jill spends about 50 hours a week with her head angled downward at laptop, tablet and phone screens and another 15 hours a week watching TV with pillows pushing her head pushed forward. And she spends mere minutes looking upward—reaching for food, cups and plates and while shopping—and no time at all on an exercise routine.
Jill’s neck aches with intense flare-up pain in the moment, but season by season, she knows her tech neck is becoming a bigger problem, as it’s restricting her breathing and hampering her digestion. Even more, it’s contributing to her increasingly rounded shoulders and resulting in lots of stress in her increasingly rounded upper back, full of painful muscle knots. Tied to these issues is the fact that Jill has been suffering from dizziness, referred to as forward head posture vertigo. When she stands and, especially, when she walks, she feels as if she might take a tumble.
Although Jill doesn’t know it yet, her tech neck has also been causing compensation, limitation and functional loss throughout her body. She simply isn’t moving much anymore because she doesn’t feel particularly well or have much energy because of shortened breath. She gets a fair amount of stomachaches and notices they happen the most when she’s doubled over while on her smartphone while eating lunch or dinner. She’s only 27 but already feels middle-aged and wonders what she’ll feel like by the time she’s 35. And when she looks in the mirror, she no longer sees a cheery, vivacious young woman, as her eyes immediately get lost in deep emerging facial lines that are beginning to tell a story about where she is in life.
Tech Neck Lines and Tech Neck Wrinkles Can Make You Look Older
Beyond the fact that tech neck can distort your posture, negatively impacting your breathing and digestion, among other bodily systems, while causing acute and chronic pain, it can also lead to the onset of what are known as tech neck lines and tech neck wrinkles—even tech neck double chin. Why? When the face is pointed downward, gravity works by pulling down the face and neck.
If you spend hours a day hunched over a laptop computer, tablet or phone as well as look down in any kind of activity for significant time periods, you’re putting yourself at risk of aging in facial and neck appearance thanks to earlier-than-usual onset of lines and wrinkles.
Although you might enjoy eating mounds of fruits and vegetables or even be on a fruitarian diet, all this wonderful nutrition and freed-up digestive energy alone can’t completely counteract text neck wrinkles.
I believe poor diet, suboptimal posture and craniosacral fascial strain (more on this in the next section) are the causes of the overwhelming majority of all health conditions, with stress, substance use (including legal drugs), environmental factors and birth defects accounting for the bulk of the rest. Diet is a major contributing factor, but it is naive to think that dietary improvements alone can result in peak health across the board especially if a body is continually contorted in ways that run counter to human beings’ natural design.
My Forward Head Posture Was a Major Problem, Affecting Me for Decades
At an informal 20-year high school reunion, a former girlfriend came up to me and, after exchanging hellos and hugs, the first thing she said to me was that my posture was so straight. In marveling at my posture, she asked what I did, and I told her all about posture exercises. (Note: It’s hard for me to shut up about posture correction exercises and calisthenics as well as a fruitarian diet, as I’m like a runaway train, fueled by endless passion for these life-maximizing lifestyle practices.)
Later that night, I replayed in my mind what it was like for me to live with poor posture throughout high school, especially after a growth spurt in spring and summer 1993 that saw me grow a half-foot. I recall carrying around heavy textbooks in a backpack, pushing my head, neck, shoulders and upper back far forward of my hip joints, over which they’re supposed to rest.
I recalled seeing childhood photos of my friend Chris and me at my sister’s 16th-birthday party. I recall that I suffered from forward head posture back then, in the spring of seventh grade.
I then recalled the words of Dr. Barry Gillespie, founder of Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, who told me just weeks before that 2015 reunion that my eyesight was negatively affected by my neck position. (I had yet to fully commit to a key posture exercise because of time constraints.) In Dr. Barry Gillespie’s world, practically every human being alive suffers from fetal and/or birth trauma, resulting in craniosacral fascial strain such as neck strain that plays out in hundreds of health conditions. (Additionally, most live their entire lives with impaired cognitive function, as craniosacral fascial strain has left them without a brain that naturally expands and contracts, or “breathes,” as it should.)
Dr. Barry Gillespie and I believe I was affected by either fetal trauma and/or trauma during the birthing process, sowing the seeds for me to suffer from forward head posture from the earliest age. Years of craning my neck forward by using a pillow when watching TV didn’t help matters, and neither did all the schoolwork, looking down at books and papers, and carrying around 15 pounds of textbooks.
Even though I was a wildly active youth—playing a mixture of organized and neighborhood football, basketball, baseball and hockey as well as lifting weights for a few years—many key muscles needed for good posture didn’t get the work they needed.
By October 2015, on that crisp autumn reunion night, I had brought my posture to a new level, and in the succeeding five-and-a-half years, it’s gotten even much better, with my getting the best results in the past couple of years as my relentless thought and experimentation has produced revealing insight and exceptional results.
The Posture Exercises Method Gives You the Best Tech Neck Exercises
As you can see, tech neck is some serious business, negatively affecting people’s health and costing a pretty penny in treatment and equipment costs. Many are on the internet searching for tech neck exercises, text neck exercises and “how to get rid of tech neck.”
The good news is, with a Posture Exercises Method practice, many exercises can help wipe away not only tech neck and connected physical ailments such as rounded shoulders and a rounded back but tech neck lines and tech neck wrinkles and the effects of a sagging face and neck.
How’s that for an anti-aging exercise program that can also leave you feeling like a rocket and moving well into your 100s?
One exercise, when done for 10 minutes, can instantly improve on the negative effects of tech neck while bringing back the shoulders and upper back and working the lower back (and, with modifications, the glutes, abductors and adductors) and have you standing taller than you have in years—possibly ever—as well as taking deeper and more-relaxed breaths.
One long exercise, which may be paired with time for audiobook listening or TV or movie watching, is extremely effective in making one’s face, neck and entire body look years and years younger, thanks to gravity working in a different way from forward head posture. Indeed, five years ago, when one client started working with me, a friend of his remarked that the client, then in his late 60s, looked “decades younger” just weeks after launching a near-daily Posture Exercises Method practice.
So if you’re wondering about how to get rid of tech neck in general and how to get rid of tech neck lines and wrinkles, know that a path to success is open to you with your embrace of a Posture Exercises Method practice.
The Posture Exercises Method Is the Ultimate Body-Tuning Workout
I’m closing in on five straight years of never missing a Posture Exercises Method workout and made up my mind long ago that these workouts will be an everyday practice. As of this magazine issue’s publication date, my streak is at 1,648 consecutive days, and since I made posture exercises part of my life, in mid-April 2010, I’ve done routines built from dozens of posture exercises 98 percent of the days.
Just as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s TB12 Method gains credibility as this remarkable athlete’s sustained and extraordinary level of athletic performance and success continues into his mid-40s, I believe my Posture Exercises Method consecutive-days streak offers validity to an exercise program. Why else would a health-minded practitioner repeatedly come back for more if it weren’t effective and feels good to do every single day? I wholeheartedly believe my Posture Exercises Method is the ultimate body-tuning workout.
Similar to the diet world, the exercise world is full of information that’s incongruent with peak health. I reject the notion, for example, of exercising just three days a week, resting the other four days, and argue that human beings were designed to earn their meals multiple times every day. I show up for myself in this natural way and am enjoying the splendor and glory of living in a strong, functional and mobile body that allows me to compete and even dominate in sporting activities against men and women half to a third of my age.
I also believe traditional physical therapy chases symptoms without ever addressing causes, as this was my experience in 2000 while suffering from chronic pain—back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome—from 2000 to 2010. Folks I know pursuing traditional physical therapy even these days cannot find resolution to their compensation, limitation, functional loss and chronic pain. The same can be said for most folks who pursue yoga with tilted pelvises, elevated hip joints and other serious disparities in their posture such as uneven shoulders and rotated femurs. (For the record, these disparities include just about everyone alive.) Simply put, there are far better and safer exercises than downward dog and tree pose for correcting musculoskeletal dysfunction, and they’re called posture exercises. Yoga might have a rich history and be a beautiful practice, but it was not designed to address modern causes of a dysfunctional body—and people have very dysfunctional bodies these days! Its results cannot match the results of the exercises in my Posture Exercises Method.
Another form of physical therapy that tackles and corrects causes while symptoms magically dial down in intensity and even completely vanish, my Posture Exercises Method features workouts that are fun, stimulating, intuitive and rewarding. Many times in the past 11 years I’ve done my posture exercises, I’ve pinched myself to know that I’m not dreaming. I still don’t know what’s sweeter: that I’ve reversed chronic pain by fixing my major-joint alignment and correcting my posture, that I feel so good living in my body today or that I know, with my continued Posture Exercises Method practice, that I will enjoy living in a strong, functional and mobile body decades from now.
I want to bring the gifts of my Posture Exercises Method into your life. I want my passion and energy for my Posture Exercises Method to help elevate you as you make strides on your grand journey. Whether you’re tired of being in pain from tech neck or other pain symptoms or are looking for an edge athletically, you can be sure that you’ll make marked improvements in your body that will have you feeling outright elated and wanting—and getting—more out of life!
During the COVID outbreak, many health-conscious folks are stepping up their games by adding raw vegan meals to their diets to give their immune systems a boost. If you’re affected by tech neck and other physical conditions, what are you doing to fix tech neck and these other conditions, which may include a rounded back, painful hips, achy knees, stubborn ankles, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, sciatica and herniated disks?
Are you honoring your inner voice to avoid pain and gain pleasure?
If not, let’s get you started on a path to feeling extraordinary!
In this lifetime, we have one shot in this body, and it’s our privilege and responsibility to rise to the occasion and show our vessels the love they deserve!