How To Fix Nerd Neck
Continuing on with my “fix desk posture” series, we’re going to look at how to fix nerd neck now. Nerd neck is a forward head posture caused by the setups of our desk monitors (a lack of ergonomics, need for glasses, not adjusting the font size on the screen, etc, etc) and by our obsession with using our phones and tables for reading, social media-ing, and watching videos. The eyes and the head get mesmerized by all the shiny pixels on the screen, slowly creeping farther and farther forward until we’ve messed up the length tension relationships in our bodies.
But all hope is not lost! Let’s get busy fixing things!
How to Fix Forward Head Slumped Posture
I’m excited that our first video today is from Jeff C over at AthleanX. I watch a lot of his stuff regularly, although he’s told me to stop doing so many things at this point I’m not entirely sure what I should be doing in training.
Jeff suggests that nerd neck is actually caused by either a posterior pelvic tilt and rounded shoulders. If you stand in front of a mirror, squeeze your butt, and see your pelvis tilt downward you have a posterior pelvic tilt. If it goes upward, you have an anterior pelvic tilt.
Moving on, Jeff grabs a weight bench, and gets the shoulders and head up on the bench. The feet are out in front and the pelvis is shifted from a posterior to anterior pelvic tilt by dropping the hips slightly down. Tuck the chin and hold it slightly off the bench. Hold for 1 minute and repeat 3 times per day.
If that’s too easy, move your arms up in line with the head. The final progression involves holding a weight plate on your head with your arms.
We then move onto face pulls. This version of the face pull involves an overhead press once you’ve pulled to your face. Face pulls are suggested at the end of every workout (I definitely toss them into at least my mobility days.)
3 Exercises to Fix Nerd Neck
Next up we’ve got a chiropractor.
Your head weights 10 to 14lbs! Every inch your head moves forward it gains 10lbs! He suggests this can lead to spinal issues, low back issues, and some other not so good things.
- Chin Tucks – Take two fingers, place them on your chin and gently push backwards. You can do either 10 or 15 repetitions or go for holds (10 second holds.) Eventually, as your body becomes used to the movement, try without the aid of your fingers. This can be done while sitting in your office chair.
- W’s – Squeeze the shoulder blades down and back and place your elbows near your sides with your hands up (making a W with your arms and body.) Make sure your head stays tuck. Hold for 5 seconds, repeating 5 times.
- YWLT – Arms up into a Y, no shrugging, tucked or neutral head. Pull your arms back as far as you can and hold for 2 breaths. Drop down to the W from above for 2 breaths. Drop your arms down to get both arms making an L with the arms (elbows at 90 degrees.) 2 breaths again. Now unbend your elbows so your arms are fully extended away from the body to make the letter T. Pull your arms back, relaxed shoulders. 2 breaths. “You will live taller” is the fun reminder. Do this a few times per day.
7 Exercises to Correct Nerd Neck
Bob & Brad really are the 2 most famous physical therapists on the internet, as they keep coming up over and over. They do banter about how it shouldn’t be called “nerd neck” but, oh well.
All On Your Back
- DO THIS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. Start with gentle chin tucks (their chin tuck is more of a pulling the head back or snap back in boxing), laying on your back without a pillow. You can start with a towel behind your head.
- Side to side head turns. Rotate the head from side to side on the towel.
- Towel hold. Scoot your head off the bed with the towel behind your head. Hold the towel with your arms and use it to help guide the head. Tilt your head down off the bed then return to center. 10 repetitions most.
- Lay on Foam Roller – Get off the bed and grab your longer foam roller. Get your head to tailbone on top of the foam roller with your knees slightly bent. You can move your arms around to your sides to open the chest up. They suggest 2-ish minutes at the beginning or end of the day. They also suggest doing this at the end of the workout. Its worth noting if your head doesn’t sit on the roller you can add a towel. The towel can be a guide to track progress.
In a seated position
- Awareness of head posture – If you’re in a car with a high headrest you can use the headrest on your car as a guide. If you’re in a chair just pay attention to whether or not your head is creeping forward. If it is, pull it back. Toss in some chin tucks at the stop lights.
- Lean Back Hands Behind Head Chair Stretch – Interlace your fingers behind your head and simply lean back in your chair. You can use a soft ball to help get some extra stretch in the mid back area.
- Against a wall – Put your belt line against the wall, then get your shoulders and head back against the wall. You can put your elbows and wrists (palms away from the wall) on the wall as well to get additional muscles stretching. You can move your arms up and down for the wall angels. Your stopping position is when any part of your arm starts to come off the wall.
- While Walking – Options 1 and 3 from the bed routine with the towel around your neck. You can also bring the towel from in front of you to behind (the towel will end around your belt line.)
- Face Pulls without a machine – bring your arms out to your sides with your hands going towards the ceilings. Rotate at the wrist so your thumbs go behind you. Squeeze at the shoulder blades down and back.