Text Neck-OMG, Tips & Stretches to fix it!
We have a team of professionals we call “Energy Fitness Endorsed Providers” in our bag of tricks to help our clients feel their best. As a personal trainer in Memphis,TN and owner of Energy Fitness since 2002 we have gathered a few favorite professionals we like to refer out who are outside our scope of fitness and nutrition knowledge.
This article/blog post is featuring of our Endorsed Providers in the area of Physical Therapy. I spoke with Dr. Shannon Hughes about injuries we have seen on the rise with the neck and shoulder leading me to believe it’s all this texting. Sometimes our clients or people I meet are in a chronic state of pain or have pre-existing injuries that come to the surface as they add more movement and exercise to weekly lifestyle and need a physical therapist such at Dr. Hughes.
We have all seen them. Crowds of folks waiting in line at the bank or at the local grocery store. All looking down at their phones: playing games, texting friends, answering emails. We don’t think anything about it; it has become the typical stance that we associate with waiting! Does the picture below look familiar to how you view your smart device?
We asked Dr. Hughes to write the below article on Text Neck & she mentions how a personal trainer can help you strengthen & stretch the muscles involved in posture. Be sure to see the end of the article where I include pictures of helpful stretches.
Energy Fitness Endorsed Provider Info/Qualifications
Dr. Shannon Hughes is highly educated and well versed in her field. Here’s what’s behind her name: Physical Therapist, DPT, MTC, Orthopedic Certified Specialist, Asst. Professor, College of Health Professions University of Tennessee Health Science Center-Department of Physical Therapy. She helped me work through a SI Joint injury as well as median and ulnar nerve pain so I know she knows her trade.
Well, we are now waiting on neck and upper back pain from this atypical posture! Last year Dr. Hansraj published an article in the journal, “Neuro and Spine Surgery,” concerning the increased loads we are placing on our necks from assuming the “Text Neck” posture. In good posture our head weighs about 10-12 pounds. When we slump, looking down with our whole neck and upper back, we create an almost 90 degree angle in our spine. In this position, the head creates a compressive force 6x greater than normal.
This increase in force not only increases the compressive load on the joints of the neck and upper back, which can cause early degeneration and arthritis, but it also over stretches the muscles in the back of neck and shoulders, and shortens the muscles in the front of the chest and shoulder. All leading to a pain cycle easily broken by paying attention to the messages your body sends.
To break this cycle, be aware of your posture. Pulling shoulder blades back and together, and pulling your chin back while keeping eyes level with horizon is a good starting point for good posture. Roll your shoulders and turn head and neck to maintain good range of motion and blood flow during breaks from device use. Avoid prolonged periods of time spent looking down at your phone/tablet/e-reader/laptop. You can bring your arms up or rest your arms so that the device is in line with your eyes.
A personal trainer can help with advanced postural stretching and strengthening exercises as well as advice related to overall strengthening and flexibility. If you continue to have problems and pain, seek medical attention; a great place to start is a physical therapist. As the movement experts, they can evaluate and treat postural issues related to “Text Neck”. In Tennessee, you can have an evaluation for your issues from a licensed physical therapist without a doctor’s referral.
Helpful Stretches for Kicking Text Next to the Curb!
Do the below stretches 2-3 times a day or more depending on how much you are hunkered over your device. When you first begin you may want to and really only be able to cope with holding each stretch for 30 seconds. You may find that you can tolerate the mild to moderate pain of the stretch more often but shorter periods of time like the 30 seconds. As you become more aware of your head and neck position you will likely need less frequent stretch breaks and may opt for stretching longer like 60 seconds and be able to decrease or eliminate aches or pain within a week or two.
You may want to evaluate your sleeping position habits and pillow as well.
The above stretches stretch your scalene muscles which run along the sides of your neck. If stretching isn’t offering enough relief or you find difficult to do you can manually and gently use your fingertips to lengthen the muscles or schedule a massage with Energy Fitness Endorsed Provider Mae Jensen with Greenchi Massage 256-454-2297, firstname.lastname@example.org (mention this blog post/article and get a little bag of epsom salt and advice of how to use).
This stretch is great for opening up the chest muscles that become tight when doing the Text neck forward head and rounded shoulders position.
If you have a stability ball this is a great combo move to get both the chest and the scalene muscles. If you need to move further down the ball and place your head, neck and shoulders on the ball for a more comfortable position then work within your limits.
Happy Stretching and Better Texting Posture and awareness.
Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM, FLT Metagenics
Owner/Dir. of Training
Energy Fitness 901-466-6242
552 South Main, Memphis, TN 38103
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