We see it everywhere: people do it crossing the street, sitting on airplanes, sneaking it in during meetings, presentations, conversations. We even see people illegally fit it in while driving. What is this overly prevalent activity? Scrolling, texting, reading, selfie-ing (I know, not a word) on our devices. As Angela reported not long ago, tech neck can create unwanted early lines on the front of our necks, causing us to show signs of age earlier. But beyond appearance, what about the negative effects of tech neck on our health?
When we assume the scrolling “tech neck” posture, our heavy, smart heads tilt forward and down, rounding the backs of our necks and shoulders. A researcher reported that the further forward the head hangs, the more force on our necks. He explained, “As the head tilts forward, the forces seen by the neck surge to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.”(1)
So what does this mean? Our necks are not built for that kind of force over time!
In addition to excessive stress on our cervical spines, our chests cave forward, further tightening our already inflexible pectoral muscles. When tight, our pecs can clamp down on nerves and blood vessels, potentially limiting our upper limb function.
Over time, this aforementioned persistent patterning can cause orthopedic problems from tension headaches and migraines to neck and upper back pain due to early cervical and thoracic spine degeneration.
What’s a human to do? Follow these daily fixes:
Can you set yourself up in an “ergonomically correct” position so that you have better posture? Raise the phone to eye level or even prop up your arms on an object on your table as you look at your phone.
Yes, I am always going to say do yoga here at Mind the Mat. Yoga will stretch out the anterior or front neck muscles and strengthen the weakened ones in the back of your neck. In addition, perform these therapeutic exercises daily:
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Neck pain? Try these simple stretches. One of my “regulars” said the second stretch (swipe for it) changed her life. If you don’t have an injury, neck pain can come from simple muscle tightness and poor posture. Try these gently, every day, but especially after a hot shower. #SCMstretch #levatorscapstretch #scm #levatorscapula #neckpain #posturaldysfunction #physicaltherapist #hawtpilates #mindthemat #delrayVA #extraordinaryalx
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Posture 101 quick fix: By quick, I mean sometimes after class I can give quick advice on orthopedics – SWIPE. (Note, I say winging here but what I needed to add was “tipping”. I am making a clinical guess here without actually muscle testing her. My guess came from watching her move in class). Once she gains flexibility in her pecs, the moves we perform in class will strengthen her lower trapezius. Again, I prefer this stretch in a door frame. #getpt1st #physicaltherapist #therapeuticexercise #wahoos #hoos #extraordinaryalx #visitdelray
Seriously, you’ve already heard this. I’ve been alarmed by how much screen time I log a week (the new iPhone software will provide a weekly report). Create an achievable goal to reduce your screen time on your phone or device. Maybe you are scrolling just to scroll, or even spending too much time on social media. If you use your phone for work, consider how much of that work can be done in a better ergonomic environment such as your standing desk or home office instead of your phone. Schedule it out — don’t be on your phone just to be on your phone.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.