Do you tuck your head down over your chin and hunch your shoulders while you shoot a text or scroll through Instagram? Are you spending your nights MacGyvering your body into makeshift positions so you can watch Netflix on your laptop? Are your days spent in front of a computer screen? You’re a good candidate for tech neck, and right now—with more hours spent in front of the screen than ever—it can only be feeling worse.
Physically, this posture can cause problems like headaches, neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, soreness and muscle aches. “Prolonged use of technology compresses and tightens the muscle, tendon and ligament in front of the neck, while elongating the structures behind the neck,” says Shereena Master, Mumbai-based mobility coach. “This crick in the neck isn’t just annoying or uncomfortable,” she says, so getting ahead of it should be a priority. She suggests active mobility exercises that not only help improve the range of motion, but also help gain better muscle control.
While this is painful at it is, tech neck can also have negative effects on the skin of your neck. “The skin on the neck is thinner than the face, once the ageing process begins, coupled with gravity, the aesthetics of the neck can deteriorate quite quickly. When we stare into our smartphones and laptops we apply an excess pressure of up to 50 pounds on the bones and muscles around our neck, which is only meant to handle 10-12 pounds,” says UK-based celebrity facialist, acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine expert Ada Ooi. Ooi, who counts stars such as Rooney Mara and Ellie Goulding as her clients, warns that the natural ageing process also contributes to collagen loss and muscle laxity. The constant folding of the skin from this repetitive motion causes wrinkles, double chin and neck sagging problems.
Try a neck massage
“Face and neck exercise and massages can help retrain and strengthen the muscles around the skin for a lifting and firming effect. It also initiates lymphatic drainage actions to drain excessive fluids, which in turn reduce the weight of the skin to avoid the folds to become more serious,” says Ooi. The massaging motion also improves the blood and nutrient circulation to the skin, while naturally helping improve the contour of the face. This is the massage she loves best.
Apply a vitamin-rich, light non-comedogenic oil serum or moisturiser across the lower part of the face and neck. While you work with upward/circular strokes across the face, go with downward strokes across the neck as the fold opens from above to fully moisturise the area.
To lift the neck, you need to release the excessive fluids across the lower part of your face and the jawline. Using a gua sha tool, go upwards with a lifting motion from the side of the mouth to the front of the ear. Then, drain from the back of ears, along the neck and gently pulse over the collar bone.
Then massage with medium to firm pressure on the temporalis muscles (the ones you use to chew). This accumulates tension from grinding food and clenching the jaw, so releasing the muscle will help with better circulation and drainage.
Place the gua sha tool at the tip of the chin and scrap upwards to the back of ears and drain along the neck line to the collar bone.
End with tilting your head backwards, stretching the entire neck, open and close your mouth while turning to the right and the left in a gentle slow motion.
Don’t forget skincare
“Now that we’re wearing masks, the neck feels more visible than usual,” says Dr Kiran Sethi, integrative skin and wellness specialist and medical director of Isya Aesthetics, Delhi. “Pigmentation, fine lines and texture irregularities are only made worse by sun exposure as it breaks down collagen,” she says. The thinner skin is thanks to a thinner dermis, so there is less collagen and elastin in the area. Taking a hydrating serum, ceramide-rich moisturiser and sunscreen down from your face to the neck is important, and a step that shouldn’t be skipped.
Some doctors like using silicone to fight fine lines, particularly in the form of silicone gel pads worn on the skin through the day or night. Silicone improves oxygen in the area and keeps moisture in, which creates a microclimate that is conducive to skin healing. Compressions keeps the skin moisturised and collagen production is activated too.
Try high-tech in-office treatments
“I like radiofreqency and Ulthera for tightening,” confirms Dr Sethi. The noninvasive technologies bolster collagen and elastin production, which then help to make the skin healthier and more taut. These are able to “fill in the lines” and lift any saggy areas. “For pigmentation or texture issues, I like doing microneedling at a 0.5 depth to increase foetal collagen in the skin and supplementing it with skincare and nutrition. Then, I like to the brush over the neck with lasers like Picosure or Clearlift for deeper anti-pigmentation or texture reversal,” she says. Since the skin is thinner, making sure that you use a light hand is important, says Dr Sethi.