As you get better at working on your posture, you will start to notice this ‘computer neck’ all the time. You get yourself nicely organized in front of the computer with the best intentions, and several minutes later there you are pulling your neck down. It’s a pernicious habit that probably has something to do with the fact that such a highly focussed activity like computer work is not particularly natural given the fact that our bodies evolved hunter-gatherers.
Before we can solve this issue we must first learn about the top 3 negative postural habits. For me, these are three (of the many) potential postural ‘traps’ that most of us fall into when we try to change the kind of sitting that engenders ‘computer neck’..
Trap 1: (photo-left) Holding yourself in the “correct” position. We’ve all done this, right? You think to yourself “Goddamn it I’m in control here and I’m not going to let the head go forward and down”. You tighten the muscles in your neck and shoulders. This kind of looks OK in a military posture sort of way, but if you are stuck in this trap, you are definitely in for some serious neck and shoulder pain, regardless of how “well aligned” you might look.
Trap 2: (photo-right) Thinking that relaxing equals collapsing. Perhaps you’ve had it with trap one, so you try to relax as much as possible, figuring that your body will work out the details. Unfortunately you end up relaxing the deep postural muscles that you need to hold you up, and the whole spine collapses forward, again into the slump.
Trap 3: Underestimating the importance of thinking. You separate the problem into the physical side (holding your body in the right place) and the mental side (getting your work done). But as we have just explained, just the thought of concentrating combined with the stress response automatically pulls the head forward and down. If you separate everything into compartments you will likely just begin a battle with yourself – one part of you telling yourself to pull forward and down another pulling back – once again ending up stiff.
Confused? That’s because postural problems are tricky, so you should be a little confused. But with a better understanding of the issues, you can now begin to properly implement the solution.