Nerd Neck & Posture
Were you born between 1980 and 2000? Chances are you check your phone 150 times a day and spend over 8 hours staring at a computer!
Technology has connected us in ways we couldn't imagine and improved our productivity year-over-year. But our human anatomy hasn't kept up with this tech progress. Our posture has taken a backseat. Look in the mirror or take a side-profile selfie. Notice your rounded shoulders and protruding neck.
Let me introduce you to your very own nerd neck. A projected neck, forward head, and hunched back and shoulders. Over time it will lead to chronic stiffness, aches, and pains. Most importantly (to some) it's just not attractive. I tempted to fake a quote from Emma Watson not finding nerd neck guys attractive, but just ask your sister or girl friends. It makes you look wimpy and unconfident (no citation needed).
Admittantly, correct posture is my biggest struggle. As I sit and type this, I've corrected my back and neck an annoying amount. Today at 30, I already deal with shoulder and neck issues that have originated or been compounded by my posture.
My poor posture, cycling posture, and a few spills have lead to x-rays, MRIs, dry-needling, and multiple PT visits. I can tell you there's no quick and easy fix to upper back/neck/shoulder pains. I realized this now-bearable chronic ache in my neck/shoulder will grow and affect my healthspan. Hope you can join me in implementing and fixing a better posture to mitigate any issues later on in life. - Jacob
As our neck and spine require expertise, I reached out to the MyoMethod's Dr. Laura Kuan for guidance. Using our own experiences and the insights from Dr. Kuan, we've curated list of corrective stretches to give you the most bang for your buck. I've also added my own posture corrective gym workouts for extra credit.
The thesis of these movements is composed of three main topics:
- Stretch out and relieve your forward neck and chest. We're looking down too much, slouching, and doing too much bench presses causing these muscles to be in tension and stiff.
- Strengthen your rear neck and mid-upper back to open to the shoulders. We need to focus on building the rear neck, broaden the shoulders, and open up the chest.
- Repeat. Correct posture is less about building Arnold style muscles. It’s about reigniting the brain-muscle connection, the neuromuscular pathway. This is done by performing more daily repetitions. The more you activate this neuro pathway, the stronger it becomes, which gives you awareness and automatic correction of posture.
Stretch it out
Perform these stretches, and just after completing you'll realize noticeable pain relief and improved range of motion. But good posture should be a life-long concern and requires a life-long change. Aim to stretch out daily to solidify the brain-muscle connection. Keep this in the back of your mind as you battle look down at bad-form-technology influences as I'm positive you're reading this on a laptop or phone. The links below will send you to instagram examples. Pay attention to the posture of video example and each caption as they will further guide technique.
- Forward head posture neck stretch - by MyoMethod
- Rounded shoulders drill and awareness - by Dr Harden
- Thoracic spine rotation mobility - by Dr Harden
- Thoracic extension mobility - by Dr Harden
- Neck and mid-back strengthening awareness - by MoveU
Work it out
Do you have the stretches locked down and frequent the gym? Ensure your exercise rhythm includes some of my favorite and impactful nerd neck / hunch back corrective moves to broaden your chest, build your back, and further strengthen your neck. Perform these in proper posture holding your head/neck in line with a vertical spine, chest out and shoulders rolled back (in line, not too far back).
- Face pulls - point thumbs behind you at full pull
- Chest flies - light weight and really stretch out the wide (into the arm pit) pectorals
- Chest ball massage - use a tennis ball or similar to dig deep into side pec fascia
- Wall slides - flat back on wall and keep full contact on wall as you push upward
- Prone Y - no weights needed, ensure your traps are doing the work and not lifting your shoulder
- Shoulder dislocations - start with a ultra wide grip as you roll back and forward keeping arms straight and correct spine and neck posture, can also do these standing
Below are ~1 min videos to best explain or show each exercise.
Posture for life
Recall when we talked about the healthspan ingredient in longevity? Posture ties directly into quality of life or healthspan. In your day-to-day be aware of your posture. The stretches and lifts can help you correct, but as you walk, sit, and work you'll be tempted to relax and slouch in all scenarios. Think about implementing these seemingly-boring but very helpful hacks to fix your nerd neck.
- Raise your sternum (chest bone) up. Notice how the shoulders drop back and spine vertically aligns.
- Slight pull-in of chin to vertically align neck with spine.
- Office improvements: stand up desk, stand every 30 min, and consult ergonomics sources.
This article is geared toward correcting bad habits that lead to poor neck/spine/back/shoulder posture. If you have very poor or painful posture due to the actual structure of your spine being deformed from chronic wear and tear, accidents, falls, injuries or other, these stretches and exercises can aid, but please consult your primary or chiropractor for guidance. More intense types of chiropractic care may be required to reconstruct your spine. If you're in the Bay Area reach out to the MyoMethod!