Technology is a great thing, but not when it’s at the expense of your spinal health and wellness. Our postures are changing — de-evolving, if you will — adjusting to suit our smartphones, tablets and laptops. As we literally bow down to the forces of gravity, our spines go through negative adaptive changes, curving forward and becoming more susceptible to injury. The new epidemic? Text Neck — neck pain, stiffness and headaches directly associated with the repetitive or long-term use of hand-held devices. But it’s not just the neck that suffers. A heavy, sagging head can lead to a dowager’s hump, carpel tunnel syndrome, lower bag pain, sciatica and “gamer’s thumb”. THE PROBLEM: The Big Slump The usual suspect is our poor posture. The inability to maintain our heads in proper, balanced alignment while texting, typing or reading overstretches and strains the posterior neck muscles, while compressing the anterior ones. This can lead to headaches, neck aches, scapula pain, radiating arm symptoms and hand numbness and tingling. In New York, this spinal overload is re-enforced by sitting on hard, curved bus and subway seats, “strap hanging”, shoulder-hauling cumbersome bags and collapsing our bodies over small device screens. (Next time you are riding the MTA, take a look at your fellow commuters’ postures!) THE SOLUTION: Readjusting Both Your Posture and Postural Program Dealing with text neck takes a multifaceted approach, correctable with the practice of spine-healthy habits. If you’re stretching, rolling out and exercising for increased spinal stability and mobility, you’re on the right track. Now let’s turn your good spinal program into great one for improved efficiency and longer-lasting results.
- Rock and roll
- Get on the Ball
- Ask for a Hand
- Use It or Lose It
- Get to the C.O.R.E of Problem
- Coordinated breathing. Why? A slumped posture means a compressed diaphragm. Corrective breathing exercises are crucial for proper transport of oxygen to working muscles and brain for clarity, concentration and a deterrent to some forms of headaches.
- Organized muscle activity. Why? The research is out there. With pain, dysfunctions occur such as muscle “amnesia”, altered biomechanics, limited range of motion, compensatory patterns and muscle imbalances. Your muscles needs some re-education to work in a coordinated, synergistic fashion!
- Repetition: Why? Big changes won’t happen overnight. It may take some time to reset your brain to your new postural positions. You’ll need to practice, practice, practice in all sorts scenarios, situations and environments for these changes to become habits.
- Endurance: Why? Counting reps and sets does little for real life carryover. Neck muscles kick on as soon as you raise your head off of the pillow and stay on (until supported). Training them to tolerate long laptop or smartphone use is just as important as sports-specific training for any athlete.
———–More text neck related links:
- Washington Post: Text Neck
- Why sitting is bad for you
- Resetting your posture at your work station
- Veridesk: Make your work station work for you!
- A simple 10 minute Yoga routine for improved posture and spinal mobility