Technology has made life easy. Most of us probably don’t even remember the days when we used to have to actually walk over to the TV to change the channel or volume. Scouting the library for research - What’s that?
Today, googling something on your phone or laptop will suffice.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good. With the integration of technology, comes more and more individuals leading sedentary lifestyles.
Take right now for example. You are likely reading this article seated and hunched forward toward your computer screen. Hey, maybe you even do it the gym - you stretch your neck forward to view yourself in the mirror or hunch down in between exercises to check your phone.
Or perhaps you are lying on the couch right now, craning your neck forward and down to view your phone screen. The problem arises when we do this for hours at a time.
Technology, more specifically your cell phone, is causing a new postural phenomenon called forward head posture, also known as text neck.
Forward head posture is a condition where your head is positioned forward, past your shoulders. For every inch your head moves forward, an additional 10 pounds of stress is created on the neck.
This stress creates tension and strain on the neck and shoulder muscles. It pulls on the ligaments and tendons - causing pain and discomfort.
This postural position can also cause breathing issues and degeneration of the spine. Evidently, your posture is not something you want to mess with.
How Do You Know If You Have Text Neck?
A doctor or physical therapist can confirm that you have forward head posture. However, you can also perform a simple test at home.
This test should in no way replace the advice and diagnosis from a trained healthcare professional. But, it is a good starting point. Plus, it’s a good idea to catch the problem before any serious health issues arise.
1. Stand tall with your back against a wall.
2. Your feet should be in line with your shoulders, and your buttocks should be touching the wall.
3. Your shoulder blades should also be touching the wall.
If your head isn’t touching the wall, it’s likely that you have forward head posture.
Fixing Your Text Neck
Luckily, there are ways to fix the problem.
Below we outline 2 exercises and their progressions to help you combat your forward head posture. Essentially, it comes down to strengthening weak muscle groups and training your body to assume a proper postural position.
The Deep Neck Flexor Exercise
This exercise targets the deep neck flexors - small and deep muscles in the neck that help you flex your neck forward. Although they are small, they matter. In individuals with forward head posture, these muscles are often weak and neglected. Strengthening them can help support the head and neck.
1. Stand with your back against a wall.
2. Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed, gently retract the chin - think that double-chin face you made as a child.
3. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
4. Make sure you aren’t tensing up at the sides of the neck or shoulders. If you are, reset and try again.
5. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and perform 2-3 sets every day.
1. Start on all-fours.
2. Perform the chin retraction in this position. If you want to check to make sure you are doing it right, use a mirror or place a half-foam roller on your back and head.
3. Again, hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
4. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and perform 2-3 sets every day.
The Shoulder Blade Pinch Exercise
This exercise focuses on bringing your shoulders down and back. When you crane your neck forward, your shoulder tends to follow suit. This exercise strengthens the often weak mid-back muscles, called the mid-trapezius muscles. This is a staple exercise in most postural rehab programs.
1. Stand or sit tall.
2. Without shrugging your shoulders up, gently pinch your shoulder blades down and back.
3. Hold here for 5-10 seconds.
4. Relax and repeat. Do 10-12 repetitions, 2-3 times every day.
1. Wrap a resistance band around a post or solid object in front of you.
2. Sit in a chair and hold the ends of the resistance band in each hand.
3. Begin with your arms straight and slight tension in the band.
4. Slowly bend your elbows, performing a row movement. At the same time that you bend your elbows and pull back on the band, gently pinch your shoulder blades down and back. Your elbows should move just past your torso.
5. In a slow and controlled movement, return your arms to the position in step 3.
6. Repeat 10-12 times and do 2-3 sets per day.
Don’t let forward head posture and pain become your norm! Stay consistent with your exercise. If pain happens, stop the exercise and reset. Or hold for less time and do fewer repetitions. Tackle your postural problem before it becomes serious. Trust us, your posture matters!