You may not be familiar with ‘text neck’, but we can almost guarantee you’ve experienced it.
It’s that tightness and tinge of pain that creeps up on your neck and upper back after a particularly lengthy Candy Crush session. You probably don’t even realize how long you’re looking down at your phone to play games, send emails, surf social networks, or text, every day.
But those tiny movements can add up to a real pain in the neck (sorry), causing serious damage in the long term.
“Looking down promotes a forward head posture. For every inch forward you hold your head, the weight carried down through the spine increases by 10 pounds” says Dr. Karena Wu, physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in NYC and Mumbai.
“Looking down puts pressure on the front of the neck and gaps the back. This is especially troublesome as it can cause intervertebral discs to migrate backward, thereby increasing the chances for disc bulges.
“It also strains the back of the neck as the muscles on the backside are in a constant state of contraction, trying to pull and support the head (which weighs 8-10 pounds) in this too far forward position. That leads to muscle strain and pain on the back of the neck.”
You probably won’t be able to eliminate looking-down-at-phone time, but there are exercises that can help counter the tension on your neck and back, protecting you from more serious injury in the future.
Reverse the look-down head position, and pull your chin back so your head is sitting back between your shoulders. This should align your head directly over your torso, relieving the compression in the spine, and the strain in the neck muscles.
Sitting with good, upright posture, have your head situated directly over your torso. Now, nod your head yes, feeling how much motion you have in the top most neck joint. Hold the bottom of the nod (create a double chin!). Don’t nod too hard and jam your chin into your throat. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release.
Start sitting or standing with your hands clasped behind your head. Open your elbows to the side, and squeeze your shoulder blades back, stretching the front of your chest. Hold 10-20 seconds, then slowly release.
Spinal Decompression/Postural Correction
Sitting at the edge of a seat, spread your legs apart with your feet turned out at a 45-degree angle. Now, hang your arms loosely at your sides, palms facing forward. Sit up straight; bring your head back so it’s now over your shoulders. Take 10 deep breaths in and out; repeat.
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