10 Jul Say Goodbye to Text Neck!
Tennis elbow is so yesterday. Today’s biggest complaint is ‘text neck’, a back, neck and headache issue (and an instant triple chin) thanks to our love of technology.
It’s such a problem – particularly with teenagers – that a US-based chiropractor, Dr. Dean Fishman, founded The Text Neck Institute as far back as 2009.
But how does looking at our phones the wrong way present itself negatively in our bodies and how do we put a stop to it?
According to Dr. Fishman, text neck is “overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a forward and downward position at any hand held mobile device. This can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, compromised breathing and much more”.
The Mayo Clinic has reported that long-term forward neck posture leads to “long term muscle strain, disc herniation and pinched nerves.”
Dr. Fishman adds that much of his earlier research focused teenagers and university students.
“I pointed out to (a) patient’s mother that at 16 years old, her daughter had a reversed cervical curve with mild degenerative changes, and that she was too young to be experiencing these bony changes. I then asked the patient how often or how much she texts. She replied that she texts all day long, and that it is her primary mode of communication”.
However, there are small steps you can take every day to avoid suffering from text neck and its associated problems.
Doing these also means that the double (or triple) chin you didn’t even know you had is not on public display.
These tips from spine-health.com and Flex co-founder Heather Thomas Shalabi will help:
Raise the phone. Move the device to eye level so the head doesn’t have to be tilted.
Change positions when texting – lying on one’s back is an excellent way to relieve pressure on the neck (note to teenagers).
Take frequent breaks. Spend some time away from the phone, or any type of head-forward posture.
Stand up straight. Good posture – with the shoulders pulled back and down – keeps the body aligned in a neutral position. To improve this, try Wall Squats and prone exercises involving back extension, such as Pilates Swan: lying on stomach with hands placed slightly ahead of shoulders, arms bent in goal post position. Lift abdominals off mat and lengthen tailbone towards heels. Press your thoracic spine up to extension; maintain length in lumbar spine. Use your breath to contract abs and think of eccentrically lengthening your internal obliques. 8-10x.
Arch and stretch. Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain. Using a Pilates Magic Circle is a great way to stretch and strengthen neck muscles, and can assist with exercises such a Roll Up and Neck Pull. The Circle helps tone the Upper Trapezius muscles in the back of the neck, which tend to be either too short or overstretched; working with resistance against the circle isometrically tones these muscles in their correct length.
Stay fit. A strong, flexible back and neck are more able to handle extra stress. Not only that, but keeping the head aligned in its proper position relaxes the front of the neck for a more youthful appearance.
Need help strengthening your posture? Flex is offering a special Private Class package over the summer. Two Flex Privates for $1200, Semi-Private, $1000pp. Choose Pilates, Yoga, Xtend Barre, One Island South and Central Studios.