Do you frequently stare down at your phone, computer keyboard or screen?
Then you’re probably suffering from ‘text neck’ as reported in the Washington Post recently. Oh yes there is actually a word for it now. And not only that, scientific studies have been carried out to test the stress on your neck when constantly looking down at your technology device. With an average head weighing 12 pounds, the poundage increases with each degree of curvature in your neck. At a 15-degree angle the weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds and at 60 degrees it’s a whopping 60 pounds. That’s the equivalent of a full sack of potatoes resting on the back of your neck. Imagine the stress that puts on your spine. It’s an increasing cause of concern, and you only have to look around you everyday to see how many people are suffering from it without even realising the damage it will cause long term.
So what can you do to support and strengthen the muscles of the neck and spine, in order to counteract the effects of all this looking down. Well first and foremost consider joining or taking a regular pilates class. Having been involved in fitness all my life, I haven’t found anything as effective as Pilates for strengthening the spinal muscles.
In Pilates we have a name for this ‘text neck’ appearance, we call it ‘forward head posture’. It used to be more common in the older generation but now I see more and more of this type of posture in the 30 something’s and younger. Pilates is an ideal practice that can help stop or even reverse the effects of these poor postural habits. With the right teacher and working in a small but expertly led group class you will quickly learn not only how to correct and improve your posture, but also how to increase the strength in your deep postural muscles- those muscles that hold you upright. So if you’ve never considered it before, maybe now is the time to add a Pilates class to your weekly fitness schedule.
In the meantime here’s 3 simple ‘text neck’ remedies:
1. Stop looking down! Obvious isn’t it? But holding your device at eye level, raising your desktop screen, or simply looking down with your eyes rather than your whole head will put far less strain on your neck. It takes a bit of practice but it can be done. I’m doing it right now as I type!
2. Remember how your teacher/ parents used to say ‘Sit up straight?!’ Well start doing it now. As soon as you lengthen your spine rather than hunching it forward you are working the muscles in your back and neck. When you work them, you strengthen them and that’s a good thing.
3. Stretch your pecs, in other words the front of your chest. If your head is continually leaning forward the muscles in your chest will shorten and tighten. So wherever you are lift your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders and gently draw them back feeling the stretch across your chest. Doesn’t that feel better now?!
© Rachel Lawrence. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.