Why We All Have Tech Neck And What To Do About It

Rosamund Dean investigates the cure for a very modern affliction

Tech Neck

by Rosamund Dean |

When Nora Ephron wrote I Feel Bad About My Neck she had no idea what future generations would be dealing with. Her essay on how your neck belies your age, no matter how youthful your face, was published in 2006: one year before the iPhone was invented. Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time staring down at devices, exacerbating those horizontal wrinkles below our jaw – a phenomenon known as ‘tech neck’. In the past year, many of us have been working from home, hunched over laptops or smartphones, so it’s no surprise that tech neck is on the rise.

Neck pain is not only to do with our devices, it’s often caused by stress"

Sadly, the effect on our skin is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this is doing to our bodies. ‘Tipping your head forward means your spine has to do a lot more work to keep you upright,’ explains Nahid de Belgeonne, somatic movement coach and founder of The Human Method (thehumanmethod.co.uk). She’s not wrong: your head weighs about 5kg. ‘Joints and organs are not designed to be weight-bearing. It can lead to breathing issues, so it affects everything.’ But with many of us WFH for the foreseeable, what can we do about it? First, assess your set-up. ‘Make sure your device is at eye level and, if you can, find various places to work around your home. Could you use the kitchen counter as a standing desk for an hour? I sometimes sit in a squat position on a bolster, with my device on a low table.’

How To Tackle Tech Neck

The human body is meant to move, and WFH means long hours of sedentary work. In your office, you might have wandered over to chat to a colleague, or walked outside for lunch (Pret, how we miss you). ‘Let go of the idea of doing exercise in the morning and then that’s it for the rest of the day,’ says Nahid. ‘We should be moving as much as possible throughout the day. And, when you can, lie on the floor. It gets you out of forward flexion and realigns your spine.’ This is as important for your emotional wellbeing as it is for your joints, since the mind-body connection is vital when it comes to a tense neck.

‘Neck pain is not only to do with our devices, it’s often caused by stress,’ says Poppy Delbridge, founder of the Rapid Tapping technique (rapidtapping.com). ‘If you feel vulnerable, your body tends to want to go foetal, which clearly doesn’t help.’ Poppy recommends tapping, a cross between modern psychology and ancient therapies like acupuncture, since it combines talking therapy with pressure points – but with no needles. New to tapping? It simply involves tapping on meridian points, such as the forehead and temples, while replacing negative thought patterns with more positive ones. ‘It balances your nervous system back into what it’s meant to be, which is not being anxious all the time,’ she says. ‘If you do rapid tapping when you wake up, it gives you an energy boost and opens up your body for the day. For me, it’s hygiene, like brushing your teeth. But we do specific tutorials around pain relief because research has shown a 68% reduction in body pain with tapping.’

How To Treat Tech Neck Lines

Now that you’re lying on the floor and tapping yourself into a blissful state, let’s address those wrinkles. ‘I’ve seen an increase in the number of patients asking me for help with neck treatments over the past year,’ says Dr Anita Sturnham, a GP specialising in skin health and founder of Decree skincare. So, what can we do? ‘Extend skincare down your neck and chest. Use an antioxidant serum in the morning and a retinol serum at night, followed by a moisturiser rich in squalene, ceramides and peptides. And don’t forget SPF.’

Prevention is better than cure but, if tech neck lines are bothering you, there are ways to blitz them. You might have seen Andy Murray’s mum Judy recently talking about the Morpheus8 treatment she had after her sons nicknamed her ‘turkey neck’. (Note to my son: don’t do this.) If you haven’t, then google it because it’s quite a transformation.

‘Morpheus8 involves 24 needles in the neck, with a radio frequency probe at the end of each,’ says Dr Wassim Taktouk of the Taktouk Clinic in London. ‘It works by creating controlled trauma to the skin, which responds by tightening.’ It does, however, cost £4,500 (£1,500 per session). Dr Wassim has also seen a rise in patients with neck concerns and, while he extols the power of good skincare first (‘SPF is your crown jewel, so many people forget their neck’), there are more affordable aesthetic treatments that will be in demand when lockdown lifts. ‘Profhilo is a high-quality hyaluronic acid, injected into 10 points in your neck,’ he says. ‘It tightens and hydrates the skin, and lasts four to six months.’ At £495 per treatment, it’s more doable if your offspring is not a millionaire tennis player.

READ MORE: Do You Have Lockdown Face? How Blue Light From Your Phone And Laptop Could Be Damaging Your Skin

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