Neck pain is so common among Americans that it’s estimated 70% of us have significant neck pain at some time. While all the causes for neck pain are too numerous to delve into here, one BIG reason for the rise in neck pain is all the time we spend on our electronic devices hunched over in a poor posture with our heads forward and down. This ailment is so common it’s been dubbed “TEXT NECK”.
Your head on average weighs ~8 to 12 pounds which is a pretty heavy load for the small muscles and vertebrae of your neck to hold up when your head not in alignment with your spine. Text Neck is defined as an overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a forward and downward position at a hand held mobile device (phone, e-reader), video game unit or computer.This can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain and even compromise breathing.
With the increase use of smartphones and tablets for communication, on demand content, apps, games and movies, we can end up being in a “text neck” position for hours through out the day increasing our chances of pain, tendonitis and even arthritis. A simple change such as positioning your device higher near eye level, taking frequent breaks, and doing text neck exercises can make a big difference. Dr. Fishman of the Text Neck Institute in Plantation, FL recommends these 4 neck exercises for neck pain that alleviate neck pain associated with Text Neck.
1. Prone Neck Extension: Lay face down, arms by your side. Lock the shoulder blades back and down. Extend the head up to look at the ceiling, then lift shoulders and the chest. Hold position for 10 seconds, then lower the chest, shoulders and head — in that order. Repeat for a set of 10.
2. Prone Arm Abduction: Lay face down with your head and upper chest just off of a flat surface or exercise ball. Lock your shoulder blades back and down. Your arms should be down to towards the floor with your thumbs facing out, hands facing up. Reach your arms out so the body resembles a “T.” Return the arms down toward the floor, while still maintaining the shoulder blades back and down. Make the movement of the arms slow and deliberate. Repeat 12 times.
3. Prone Arm 90/90 (Shoulder Rotation): Lay face down with your head and upper chest just off of a flat surface. Lock the shoulder blades back and down. Arms should be down towards the floor with the thumbs facing in, hands open. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and then rotate your arms backward. Next, rotate your arms forward to the starting positions. Then bring your arms back down toward the floor while still keeping the shoulder blades back and down. Make the movement of the arms slow and deliberate. Repeat 12 times.
4. Snow Angles: Stand with your back, heals and head against the wall. Bring your arms as far back to the wall as possible, so both arms are at a 90-degree angle. Lock the shoulder blades back and down. Slide arms over the head, while never allowing arms to lift off of the wall. Once overhead, bring your arms down so the elbows are flush against the side of your body, never allowing them to come off of the wall. Keep the shoulder blades locked back and down. The movement is slow and deliberate. Repeat 12 times.