Researchers say that our heads weigh about 10-12 pounds. When we go into standard texting position (60-degree angle), the amount of force on our spine increases to around 60 pounds. If that isn’t enough to scare you, imagine walking around with an 8-year-old around your neck. The mechanical load placed on the spine in that position leads to weakened and lengthened muscles and ligaments that are meant to hold our heads upright. Over time, this trauma snowballs and can cause greater damage to the rest of the body. (Think: Tension headaches, shoulder pain, etc.) Below is a video of 4 reset exercises to be done throughout the day as a way of pressing the “reset button” on the position of our necks. Also, check the link below to learn more about Text Neck!
A good way to combat Text Neck is to perform the following “reset exercises” every so often throughout the day. Set an alarm or a recurring calendar reminder to help reset the position of your neck and decrease that extra load placed on your spine. (Additional tip: try coupling these exercises with an event. For example, every bathroom break, just pick an exercise or 2 to do before you sit back down at your desk or look back at your phone again!) These exercises help to reset and revert to a better positioning of our necks when we realize our eyes haven’t separated from that phone screen in quite some time…
Exercise 1: Neck Traction
Start with ears in line with shoulders (TIP: It is okay to use a mirror to check your positioning…beginning in this position is super important!). Grab a yoga strap, rolled up towel, or t-shirt. Place behind your neck just above the boniest point. Create tension by pulling away from you. Slowly raise head up for 2 breaths, keeping that tension pulled away from you and moving the straps up. Hold at the end range of motion for about 5 breaths. (TIP: it’s okay if after a few breaths, you realize you are able to extend your neck a bit further…go ahead! It’s a good thing!) Slowly come back down for 2 breaths.
Exercise 2: Chin Tucks
Start with ears in line with shoulders. Place fingers on tip of chin (No, I’m not trying to make you look silly…it just allows for a bit of proprioceptive feedback!). “Push” neck back, keeping chin level. (TIP: Imagine you have a baseball cap on and want to keep the brim of the hat level during the entire movement!) Hold chin tuck position for 2 breaths. Release. Reset. Repeat 5x. (TIP: This is a GREAT exercise to do at work every 30 minutes to an hour. No equipment, quick, easy, AND effective!)
Exercise 3: Chest Opener
Interlace fingers behind your back. Squeeze shoulder blades together. Push hands down to the ground. Hold for 5 breaths. (TIP: Get creative! While you are holding that position, try doing a few chin tucks, looking side to side, or even bringing your ears closer to your shoulder as you move your head side to side). This is another great exercise to do at work, at your house, or even during study breaks… Just take a break every hour or so to get a few relaxing deep breaths in as well as a nice stretch.
Exercise 4: Ironmans
Lay on your stomach on a comfy floor or yoga mat. Place arms down beside you and forehead on the ground. Slowly raise your trunk, arms (palms facing up!), and head off the floor as far as you can. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your fingers towards the back wall. Finish the movement with our old friend, the chin tuck. Then release back to the ground. This one might be a bit harder to do at work, but try it when you get home during commercial breaks instead of scrolling through your phone…your neck will thank you!