From reducing tension to preventing premature wrinkling - together with experts, we have created a comprehensive guide for a healthier and more youthful-looking neck...
A stiff neck and neck pain from the home office, mobile phone, and zoom? We have the solution to what to do in the event of a bad neck posture
The "Tech Neck" phenomenon was already known in our modern world, but with the lockdown and the constant home office and the associated virtual meetings, these complaints have taken on a new dimension.
As the name suggests, the "Tech Neck" is created by repeatedly looking down at the phone or the screen. "Every inch that your head hangs in front of the center adds weight to the head perceived by the nervous system from gravity," said Emily Kiberd, chiropractor and founder of New York's Urban Wellness Clinic. "The muscles have to counteract this weight by tensing up to hold your head up. This leads to tension headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and tension in the middle back," explains Emily Kiberd.
Incorrect neck posture does not only lead to physical complaints. Let's be honest: Because the constant stare at ourselves during the countless zoom meetings distorts our self-image, many also focus on the visual signs of the tech neck, such as wrinkles and creases. "The neck is a complicated place, we have relatively thin skin and a thick layer of muscle called a platysma," says Dara Liotta, a New York City-based plastic and cosmetic surgeon who is on an upward trend in neck concerns during lockdown observed. "We place high demands on our necks these days - and stretching the head out at a downward angle for many hours a day in conjunction with the sensitive anatomy of the neck is a dangerous combination."
In addition, it is not only the limited space and the lack of a proper desk arrangement but also the complete lack of work-life balance. "Today there is no separation between work and private life, and many patients roll straight out of bed, sit down at their computer, work longer and take fewer breaks," says Kiberd. "Our ancestors always kept their eyes on the horizon instead of looking down at a screen. Those days are long gone." From reducing tension to preventing premature wrinkling, three experts provide comprehensive guidelines for a healthier and more youthful-looking neck.
The first step to preventing neck pain and a stiff neck? Avoid the so-called incorrect neck posture. "Adjust your computer screen so that your eyes can see the top third of the screen," says Kiberd. With regard to ergonomic aids, she recommends investing in a standing desk, but with one caveat: you don't have to stand all the time. "My suggestion is to sit down for 20 to 30 minutes of intense work so you can focus, and then stand up for more casual conference calls or more leisurely spreadsheets," she explains. "Alternate between standing and sitting at your high desk. Life should be dynamic and work from home should stay the same. When you are sitting, it is important that you are aware of your posture. Sit with your feet up "It's hard to maintain proper posture with your legs crossed or one leg folded under the other," explains Kiberd. "You want to feel grounded so that you can build good posture from the ground up."
An important part of maintaining the health and wellbeing of your body is staying mobile. Make sure you switch positions throughout the day and take breaks from walking to avoid stiffness and soreness. "No ergonomic aids will ever replace the advantages of exercise and a break from the desk," says Kiberd. If a stiff neck is causing you discomfort, back stretches can help, as can simple strength training exercises such as farmer training, which consists of carrying weight backward with your shoulders and putting as little stress on your spine as possible. "This movement, which is held for ten breaths, can fix the tech neck faster and more effectively than an hour-long massage," she says of the exercise. For further pain relief, consider getting regular active-release treatments from a chiropractor that dissolve adhesions, reduce inflammation, and help restore functional movement.
The skin on the neck is one of the most sensitive areas of your body. "It has a relatively thin dermis layer, therefore less collagen, and elastin," explains New York dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah, he recommends addressing "tech neck" issues like horizontal necklines with a bespoke skincare regimen. First of all, make sure that sunscreen is applied to the neck area every day. "UV radiation contributes to wrinkles and laxity," says Shah. Then you should incorporate a vitamin C antioxidant serum which, with its protective and collagen-boosting properties, helps maintain elasticity and tighten the skin, as well as a moisturizing, targeted throat moisturizer with regenerative properties such as peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid. "Apply the products from the beginning of the neck to the top of the jawbone," says Shah.
To go one step further in neck care, there are a number of professional treatments that can treat sagging and wrinkled skin and relax the neck muscles so that the lines appear softer and the neck is more lifted. To restore the surface of the skin, Shah recommends non-invasive radio frequency microneedling, which promotes collagen and elastin production to tighten the skin and improve its overall texture. For filling lines and restoring volume in the throat, botox and fillers can provide optimal results.
For horizontal lines, Liotta recommends a very dilute hyaluronic acid filler injected into the line itself to "fill in the crease," she says, adding that laser treatments like Fraxel, CO2 lasers, and Profractional can also help reduce the signs to reduce those horizontal lines. To reduce the appearance of vertical collars (platysma banding), Botox can be used on the very front edges of the platysma muscle, the two plate-like muscles of the neck that pull the skin of the face downward. "Excessive tension in this front part of the muscle helps the ligament to appear under the chin and blunting the angle under the chin, making the area appear 'full'," explains Liotta. "When the front part of the muscle is relaxed, the back part of the muscle can pull harder and the skin of the neck is tightened."