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May 24, 2019 1 Comment
Do you spend hour upon hour hunched over your computer or looking down at your smartphone? Whether it’s for work or just a lifestyle choice, you are likely going to experience a common condition called “tech neck”.
If you have tech neck, or at least you think you might have it, you probably already know what it is. For those who don’t, tech neck is a condition that is caused by constantly craning your head forward and down to look at a device. This is very common in the tech world, especially for programmers. It’s also becoming extremely common for people who work a 9-to-5 in an office.
By craning your neck like this, you are applying more pressure on your neck than what your bones and muscles are meant to manage. Your head at its neutral weight is around 10-12 pounds, but when you hunch over your computer, your neck is dealing with as much as 50 pounds of pressure. This leads to a strained neck, stiff and rounded shoulders, headaches, and it can eventually lead to damage or alteration of the spine.
These imbalances are called Upper Crossed Syndrome and Forward Head Posture.
Now that we have your attention…
Here’s the good news, since you are here reading this, you are on the right path to remedying the situation.
If you are worried about getting tech neck, we have the perfect plan to combat it.
If you already have tech neck, you can reverse it. So don’t worry, just take action.
Now that we've addressed the problem, here's the tech neck solution.
First, let's make this clear, you do not need to stop working on your computer. We know that you are busy and you are trying to make a living OR you are creating something great for the world…OR both. In any case, your work isn't the problem. It's the things that you aren't doing.
So, what we are about to propose is something specifically for the busy person. We all know going to the gym 4-5 times a week and learning how to exercise properly is good for our body (and it will greatly improve any tech neck problem) but we don’t all have the time for that.
Therefore, what I am proposing is, to make time during breaks to get a workout in, or at least a few good exercises, that will specifically combat tech neck...while also improving your overall fitness simultaneously.
If you have tech neck, your upper trapezius and levator scapula (back of shoulders and neck) are significantly overactive and strained. Conversely, the surrounding counter muscles become underused and weakened.
To fix tech neck, we need to work on our imbalances and stretch out those tight areas of our body. You will need to strengthen and stretch your chest, shoulders, neck, and upper back muscles. By doing so, you will be able to support the weight of your head, reduce the strain on your cervical spine, and improve your posture for the long run.
Related: How To Get Rid of Neck Fat & Build Neck Strength
The Ultimate Tool
You don’t need a bunch of equipment and you don’t need much space. All you need is your body and a STEEL MACE.
Now you might have never heard of a steel mace. So let’s break this fitness tool down and explain why it’s the ultimate tool to fix, reverse, and eliminate tech neck.
The steel mace, which comes in various sizes, is an all-in-one, functional training tool.
Steel mace sizes:
Steel maces are an ancient weapon turned unconventional fitness tool.
Steel maces have an uneven weight distribution, with most of the weight resting in the ball of the mace. This makes movements with the mace offset, which in turn makes things more challenging as it requires greater stability and coordination. Even a lightweight, like 7 or 10 pounds mace, will be challenging and effective. Furthermore, you can alter the difficulty by adjusting how you hold the mace. The further your hands are apart, the easier it becomes, as the weight becomes less offset.
Although the mace is a full body tool that can work every muscle groups effectively, it is, in our opinion, the best fitness tool for:
To touch more on core strength and grip strength. The steel mace, by nature of design, is going to challenge both your core and grip on every exercise, even if it is not a grip or core specific exercise. When everything is offset, your grip is challenged to keep the mace perfectly horizontal or vertical and your core stability is challenged to keep you from leaning to one side and losing balance.
Also, for this same reason, the mace is great for pointing out muscle imbalances. You may find that one side of your body is weaker or less coordinated than the other. Maybe even one specific muscle group. Pay attention to these things and focus on fixing these imbalances. This will directly play a role in fixing tech neck as muscle imbalances lead to compensations of other body parts which in turn leads to overdeveloping/underdeveloping certain areas and more often than not, joint/muscle pain and injury.
Note: Because this is offset, unilateral-type training, you need to be sure to target both sides equally.
Beyond all the physical benefits, the steel mace is a lot of fun. A steel mace is primal, and it can take us away from the modern day tech world, even if it’s just for a brief moment while doing an exercise.
Now, let's talk about specific tech neck exercises that you can do using a steel mace.
Below are 3 steel mace exercises which will specifically combat tech neck.
Note: The first two exercises are going to take time to learn. The third exercise is basic but very effective.
A simpler version, but equally effective for tech neck, Upper Crossed Syndrome and Forward Head Posture, is the Pendulum. Essentially it is just the back portion of the 360 and 10-to-2. When done properly, you will be strengthening your shoulders, upper back, and you will be stretching your chest and lats while also priming your posture.
The reason the 360 is perfect for fixing tech neck is that it strengthens, stretches, and increases mobility in your entire upper body, especially the specific areas that are affected by tech neck.
The 360 and 10-to-2 are by far the best exercises you can do to correct posture. Everyone who swings a steel mace says how great their back and posture feels afterward.
That being said, you need to start with a light mace…and you need to do practice moves to work up to a proper 360 swing, or you could actually injure yourself. There is a learning curve to these movement.
So, we've created a complete guide on how to master the 360. It has all the tips and instructions you need to know to perform the three exercises above (plus more) safely and effectively. Just remember, start with a light mace and you'll have nothing to worry about.
More Steel Mace Resources:
When doing this exercise, you want to make sure you are achieving correct squat form and keeping your arms extended upward and shoulders retracted back.
It's not all about tech neck exercises. Training your whole body will improve your well-being and longevity. So, be sure to work on all areas of your body, not just your upper body. Moreover, be sure to stretch!
Before you jump into steel mace training. You need to learn the basics. Follow this guide to learn everything you need to know about steel mace basics.
Related: Steel mace basics: What every Beginner needs to learn
Even the basics will challenge you, so you can consider this the start of your training. Focus on grip orientation, hand switches, and 360 practice moves. It's all in the above link. The complexes that you will find in that article are a great way to train with the mace too, but it is something that you can hold off on until you are willing and ready. You'll see what we mean once/if you read our Steel Mace Basics.
When you are ready, here are some more resources for you to pull from. We have tons of exercises all organized into Youtube Playlists.
You can start with our Steel mace beginner exercises playlist.
Here we have all types of targetted mace exercises, so you can focus on individual muscle groups as well: Targeted Mace Exercises
You don’t need to find the time, you simply need to make it.
Take a 5-15 minute break and pick the mace up, do a couple of different exercises and try to not stop the whole time. Rotate between the exercises. Do at least one of the three tech neck mace exercises above.
Do this at least twice a day. The more the merrier. Whenever you need a break, instead of doing whatever it is that you’d do otherwise, pick up your mace.
Make time for a Quick Workout
Do a medium-to-high intensity workout with the mace for 20-30 minutes, once a day. This can be done at lunch, before work, or after work.
Take the mace outside
Take the mace outside on break and do a workout or a few exercises in the fresh air, and if you are lucky, SUN!
Training in the office
If you don't want to go outside. Do it right there in the office and set the tone for everyone. It might be strange to swing a mace around at the office at first, but let other’s know what you are doing and why. You can offer your mace as a community tool for the whole team to use. You could also have the whole office throw in to get a couple of different mace weights.
What size mace should you get?
I’d recommend a 7lb and/or 10lb to start. The 15lb is going to be quite challenging even for someone who is well-conditioned, but it is a weight that you can work up to within a month or two. It’ll also be a good weight for training larger muscle groups like your legs.
When it comes to correcting posture, you'll do best with a 7LB mace. Going heavy is not the aim when it comes to therapeutic mace movements.
Read more on what size steel mace to start with.
Do as many rounds as possible within your set workout time. Anywhere from 15-30 minutes will work. If you choose to do less total time, try to keep the rest as little as possible.
Easy workout for beginners:
10 x Pendulum
10 x Ballistic Curl
10 x Grave Diggers
10 x Switch Squat
Once you become experienced with the mace, this is a very similarly focused workout with more advanced movements:
10 x 360
10 x 10 to 2
10 x Bent Over Offset Row
10 x Dynamic Lunge
When performing these exercises, always keep posture in mind. Keep your shoulders back and chest up, and don't let your rib flare. For the row movements, retract your shoulder blades and keep the tension throughout the entire movement.
Tuck your chin down and toward the center of your neck, like you are trying to make a double-chin. Then slowly raise your chin up to neutral and repeat.
Slouch to Over-Correct
Do an over-emphasized slouched posture by rolling your shoulders forward while also bending your neck forward too. Then move into an over-correct posture position by rolling your shoulders back, bringing your shoulder blades together and raise your chin all the way up toward the ceiling.
Sit or stand squared straight, facing forward, with your shoulders pulled down and back away from your ears. Without allowing your shoulders to raise up, squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you, keep the tension, then relax and repeat.
Stand facing forward with your hands at your sides. Pull your shoulders down and back away from your ears. Slowly start to raise your arms all the way overhead, fully extended, reaching toward the ceiling. Then slowly bring your arms back down to your sides.
These are effective stretches for tech neck, but they won’t build the strength that a steel mace can. Ideally, you should mix these stretches in with some mace exercises.
Other tips for combating tech neck:
When know these tips are obvious, but people get comfortable with their habits and the way they work "best", so it's hard to make a change. Just remember, these habits are breakable and new "bests" are achievable.
Try these trigger point massage ball releases for neck and shoulder tension!
Where to buy a steel mace?
Ready to buy a steel mace? You can get one here - SET FOR SET Steel Maces.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.
Did you know the steel mace can help to prevent carpal tunnel too? The steel mace will keep your wrist and forearms super strong and healthy.
Also, did you know a tight or weak psoas (which can be caused by sitting too much) can also lead to poor posture and low back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and even knee pain? Learn how to stretch and/or strengthen your psoas. It may very well be a game changer for you.
November 11, 2019
I teach strength and mobility classes to people with cancer. I use many of these movements with my students. Your suggested sequences are a great help. Thanks.
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