It’s safe to say that a majority of our population has a smartphone, sometimes two. Unfortunately, we all are susceptible to tech neck syndrome. However, small changes to the way you consume content on your phone can make all the difference between a healthy neck and one that hurts from all that texting.
It’s not uncommon to see a patient walk into the Clinic I consult in with a twelve-pound head that’s migrated three inches forward on their body because of Forward Head Posture (FHP).
Forward Head Posture (FHP) is a common problem for many people, among other postural issues. Over time, it will cause substantial damage to the spine, in what is otherwise a preventable injury.
Did you know for every inch of FHP, the weight of the head on the spine increases by an additional 10 pounds?
The extensive spread of this particular postural issue is partly due to our society’s addiction to prolonged sitting, and through excessive use of tablets and smartphones. By doing so, your forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine, resulting in that tech neck pain.
Forward Head Posture has also been shown to affect the brain in negative ways. Research shows that 90 percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine. Therefore, less cervical movement results in less nutrition to the brain. Only 10 percent of the brain has to do with thinking, metabolism and healing.
Consequently, FHP will cause the brain to rob energy from thinking, metabolism and your immune function to deal with the abnormal gravity/posture relationships and processing.
Here are four simple strategies and stretches that will tackle that strain and pain.
1. Bring your phone closer to your face
Neck problems from cell phones can be fixed simply by bringing your phone a little closer to your face. Ultimately, you decide on positioning; your phone doesn’t. By putting 10 degrees of extension in your neck (bringing your head back up) can alleviate about 10 pounds of sustained weight on your neck. As long as you’re more conscious about positioning, it’ll help you find opportunities to bring your phone up to your face.
2. Talk more and text less
We have lost our ability to make more genuine connections. We rarely call to wish each other happy birthday anymore, for example. We pretty much say all of our well wishes with one emoji. In an age when hearing a voice over the phone is rare, take the advantage by making a call. It could set you apart in many ways and even give you a competitive edge.
3. Tuck your elbows in – it provides you with a checkpoint
When you tuck your elbows into your body it gives you no room to drop your arms down any more. When your arms drop down, your head will just end up following.
4. Get into the habit of simple and quick neck exercises
Working on these deep neck flexors is an excellent way to create a stretch of the posterior neck muscles that tend to tighten up. It also builds the strength of the muscles deep in the front of the neck that tends to get weaker and inhibited due to constantly being on the phone.
• Lie on your back.
• Tuck in your chin slightly.
• Raise your head up just high enough to force you to contract the muscles in the front of your neck against gravity.
• Slowly continue to raise your head into more neck flexion (chin down to chest).
• Don’t let your chin jut forward.
• Hold for 30 seconds (or however much time you can tolerate; many of you will become quite tired after 10 seconds).
• Repeat three times daily (ideally, doing it at meal times is a good way to remember).
We have all heard of workplace wellness. There’s also a good chance your employer has a wellness program. We hear a lot of talk about wellness, but let’s be honest—do any of us know what it means to have a great wellness program? It’s easy to set up biometric screenings for employees or hand out pamphlets on healthy eating habits and check that “wellness program” box, but are those things truly helping employees be healthy, productive and—most of all—happy?
I’d like to challenge workplaces and my fellow Physiotherapy wellness experts to move away from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” wellness offerings and shift to an all-encompassing focus on personalised wellbeing.
Recently, in a Forbes article titled “8 Trends That Will Impact Worksite Wellness in 2018,” corporate wellness and employee wellbeing expert Alan Kohll identifies this growing trend in personalized offerings. According to Kohll, “Wellness isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Wellness initiatives that are important to one employee might not be as important to another.”
Wellness is no longer a “nice to have” job perk—it’s an essential tool for attracting and retaining top talent. We’re seeing more employees, especially younger generations, expecting wellness to be a standard part of an employer’s benefit offerings. One survey of 2,000 U.S. workers featured recently in the Harvard Business Reviewshowed that respondents would choose a lower paying job if it offers better benefits—health, dental and vision insurance, plus other benefits like flexibility and work-life balance.
Many of today’s wellness programs that only focus on weight loss or quit smoking programs miss the mark when it comes to making employees truly happier at work and in life. For this reason, wellbeing is a better approach to maintaining and improving the overall health of employees and our communities.
Wellbeing goes far beyond physical fitness to include areas like mental health, financial health, and even environmental and social health. It focuses on the whole person and impacts every area of life. After all, overall health and happiness is about so much more than just numbers on a scale. Employee assistance programs aim to cover these vital areas.
It’s important to me that The Office Athlete’s wellbeing philosophy applies to more than just our wonderful clients we work with every year.
If we want to succeed in encouraging our employees to be healthy, more productive and, most importantly, happy at work—we have to embrace the wellbeing model of workplace programming. So let’s move beyond the traditional methods to ensure our employees and communities have not just their physical health taken care of, but their overall wellbeing, too.
Bear in mind that your employees reflect you and your company. Thus, it is ever so wise to pay attention to their health and make sure that they are active, refreshed and energized.
This way, you will have an inspired team of employees who will enjoy coming to work, love and care about your company as well as do their job more thoroughly and efficiently.
Here are some very useful yet simple acts that will make a tremendous difference in your employee’s health and wellbeing.
#1 Encourage Use of Stairs Rather Than an Elevator
Everyone uses elevators, as they are quick and convenient, but they don’t do much good to your heart. By using stairs instead of an elevator you burn up to 500kJ in ten minutes. Pretty great, wouldn’t you agree?
Ask your colleagues to join in on the walk, you’ll have more fun and motivation and ideally have a productive conversation
#2 Do that little extra Work to get to Work
Alongside being eco-friendly, walking that little longer and even cycling to work is a great way to add to your daily physical activities. Getting off a station early, parking that extra bit further away to ensure you have that time to relax into the work day is a lot more effective that you think.
You could also offer incentives for those who choose the cycling option. For example, offering trade-ins and purchase offers for those that choose to get new bikes.
#3 Sleep is Important
Not getting enough sleep affects your appetite, your physical activities, you performance throughout the day and reflects badly on your immunity. So, it is important that your employees get around 8-9 hours of sleep. It is astonishing how little sleep people get. Flexible start times is a great incentive for employees to catch up on sleep and their morning routine, ensuring a productive work day
#4 Boost-Your-Energy Food
While working, we tend to eat poorly. This reflects through dehydration and slow performance. Improve this by thinking ahead, planning your meals and snacks carefully and preparing your meals at home. Ensuring water and fresh fruit is available for your employees, a simple yet lovely morale boosting initiative
You can never go wrong by choosing basic and simple meals.
#5 Clean And Shiny Washrooms, Lockers, Bike Racks and Showers
Everybody is in the need of a shower after a good workout. And since you want your employees to be healthy and workout regularly, make sure to provide showers and lockers to help them refresh. Alongside this, keep those office washrooms spotless!
#6 Organize a Family Day For Everybody!
Work can take up a lot of person’s free time, including the time he wanted to spend with his family. What a better way to develop a better work-life balance and to have fun, than to organize a family day for your employees and their families! They can bring whomever they like, whether loved ones, spouses, parents or children.
#7 Set Up a Health Fair
Invite nutritionists, Physiotherapists, health and fitness experts and organize a health fair for those who lead and who would like to start leading a more healthier lifestyle.
These are just some of the fields this fair could cover: managing work-life balance, healthy eating on a budget, and better posture and movement among others.
#8 Face to Face Meetings Rather Than The Online Ones
Occasionally, prioritise face-to-face meetings instead of online ones. This will make your employees walk away from their computers, engage in some physical activity and exercise at least a little bit.
These can be walking meetings, outdoors or in a different setting to the standard boardroom lay-out.
#9 Spa And Massage Coupons
While some get paid days off, reward others with a free spa or massage coupon. You can do this on a monthly basis. Not only will your employees feel gratitude and respect, but they will also come back to work stress-free and refreshed!