A few days ago, I sat in the back seat of the car for a trip to New Orleans, and for the length of the two-hour drive, I was on my phone texting and responding to emails.
By the time we reached the Big Easy, my neck was sore and felt overstretched. Turns out that “text neck” is a growing health condition caused by having your head hung forward and down to look at your mobile device.
Text neck causes an increase in pressure on the musculature over the head and shoulders because of the downward angle and weight of the head while texting.
The more the head shifts forward, the greater the pressure around the neck area, which can cause changes in the cervical spine, the curve of the neck, and the structures that support the neck.
These changes can lead to symptoms including: tightness across the shoulders; headache; neck soreness; pain the back, arms, fingers and hands; and tingling in the upper extremities. Left untreated, text neck can lead to permanent damage of the cervical spine!
But the good news? According to Health Xchange and our wonderful chiropractor Jessica Jones, one of the best remedies for text neck is to engage in posture-focused exercises like yoga!
In Sterling Yoga, here are some specific things you do that will help your neck health:
- Neutral Position: Starting class with your whole body in alignment is wonderful practice for keeping your head balanced on your shoulders. Stretching your spine and head up to the ceiling while stretching your tailbone toward the floor will help to align your entire spine. Bring your ears over your shoulders.
- Pranayama Deep Breathing: Keep your hands on your chin and create a little bit of pressure throughout both the inhale and the exhale. The resistance you create with this pressure will help to build strength in the sternocleomastoid, the trapezius and other muscles of the neck. Stronger neck muscles will help to hold up your head.
- Back Bending: When you bend backward (lots of standing and floor poses have back bending), you counteract the forward movement common to text neck. Make sure, though, that you extend your spine, including the neck, to give your vertebrae room before bending backward. Also, make sure you move to your full range of motion—don’t push it—just go where you can and over time you will be able to go further.
- Forward Bending: Although it might seem that forward bends would exacerbate text neck, it can actually help! By mindfully compressing the front of the neck for short periods of time, you can increase the blood flow to that area. And increased blood flow means improved overall systems!
- Active and Passive Twisting: The passive lateral twist that you do when you turn your head to the right and left in face-down Savasana will help to increase the range of motion in your neck, and help to decrease the negative effects of text neck; in active twisting in poses, like triangle and spine twist, it will help even more! Take it easy, and go where you can. Don’t push it. Always move with precision and purpose.
So if you text a lot or look at your phone for long periods of time, and especially if you notice neck pain from mobile device use, take lots of breaks and make sure you practice your yoga and focus on the poses above. Happy texting!