Why Technology Hurts and How to Fix it

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Do you work in an office?   Have you ever browsed your phone for so long that your neck cramps?   Are you glued to the TV at night?  The average person spends six hours per day watching TV, sitting at a desk, and checking their smartphone.  Spending prolonged periods of time in these positions inevitably lead to shortened muscles, stiff joints, and can even change your natural posture.  If you've ever suffered from pain in your neck, wrists, lower back, shoulders, or hips after a long day of staring at your favorite screen, you know the feeling.  As nice as it would be to go off the grid, for many of us this isn't an option.  So how can we use tech to our advantage?

Stretching to the rescue!  The below movements will help to relieve pain associated with tech overuse.  No equipment required.  While they're broken down by category, I'd recommend spending some time (30 seconds to 2 minutes) in all of these positions to get a better sense of where your tight spots are.  If you notice a position that's more tense than others, try to extend the stretch for as long as possible.  Remember: Tense muscles won't relax if your breathing isn't in check.  Focus on slow, controlled breaths (7 seconds in, 7 seconds out).  With every exhale try to sink a little deeper into the stretch. 

UPPER BACK AND SHOULDERS

These movements start from a tabletop position - come onto hands and knees with your shoulders stacked over your hands and your knees below your hips.

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Cow/Cat - Take a deep breath in, bring your abdomen down towards the floor, pull your shoulders back, and gaze toward the ceiling.  Transition out of Cow pose in Cat by slowly exhaling, curving your abdomen in, popping your ribcage up, and looking in toward your belly button.

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T-Spine Rotations - Maintaining length through your spine, slowly rotate with an outstretched arm and open palm toward the ceiling, keeping your gaze toward your palm.  Alternate sides.

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Chair stretch - Placing your elbows on an elevated surface (couch, chair, etc), bring your palms together and lower your head through your arms.  You should feel a stretch from the back of your arms into your shoulders.

NECK

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Neck tilts - With your hands interlocked behind your back, slowly tilt your neck from side to side, feeling a stretch from your neck and traps through your shoulder

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Neck pulls - Placing a hand of the opposite side of your head near the crown, gently pull toward your shoulder

WRISTS

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Forearm/wrist stretches - From a kneeling position, place your palms on the floor in front of you.  Keeping your arms straight and elbows locked, slowly rotate your hands outward ending (if your range of motion allows it) with your fingers pointed back toward you.

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To stretch the front side, start in the kneeling position with your knuckles on the ground.  Keeping your arms straight and elbows locked, slowly push your arms toward the ground.

LOW BACK

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Childs Pose - starting on the floor in a kneeling position (knees out wide and big toes touching together), reach your arms forward and sit your hips back toward your heels, maintaining length in your spine.  Spend some time in the center position (30 seconds to 1 minute) then walk your arms over to each side.

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Lying Knee Tucks - From a lying position with your legs extended, slowly pull your knee inward toward your chest

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Side rotations - From a lying position with your legs extended, slowly cross your knee it over your body toward the opposite side

THIGHS AND HIPS

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Low Lunge - Taking a big step forward, plant your rear leg on the floor, extend your arms, and lift your chest.  Maintaining length through your spine, allow your hips to sink toward the lead foot.

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Pigeon - Crossing one leg in front of your body, allow your rear leg and hips to sit towards the floor, keeping your hips square.  This stretch can be done with an upright torso and hands to your sides or by dropping your head and chest toward the floor with your hands in front of you.

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Couch Stretch - On a couch or chair, place your knee toward the rear end of the seat and the back of your foot on top.  Maintaining length in your spine, contract your glutes and stomach until you feel a stretch at the front of your hips and thighs.

HAMSTRINGS

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Split stretch- From the bottom of your mat, take a big step forward and place your trailing knee on the ground.  Slowly straighten your lead leg with your toes pointing toward you and hinge forward at the waist until your fingertips touch the ground.

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Wall stretch - From a lying position on the floor, find a corner wall (this could also be done in a rig as pictured) and place your leg flat against it with your toes pointing toward you.  Keep your forward leg straight.

SHOULDERS and CHEST

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Stick stretch - With a long, light object (pole, broom, stick, etc) take a wide grip and extend your arms behind your head toward your back, keeping your chest out and arms locked.  If you're unable to lock out your arms, take a wider grip.  You want to feel a stretch toward the front of your chest and shoulders.

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Shoulder Cross (Eagle Arms) - Bend your arm at a 90 degree angle and pull it toward the opposite side of your body, feeling a stretch at the back and sides of your shoulder.  To intensify this stretch, pull both elbows toward your head.

-Dave

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