There’s a number of ways to help prevent the strain and pain that comes with Text-Neck. Do yourself a favour and read through these various suggestions to help ease slouching and make use of natural body alignment.
I recommend starting with this simple exercise to get a feel for what “proper alignment” really means.
- Stand how you normally do, with the posture you usually adopt.
- Now, translate that to a wall, and stand just the same with your back against the wall behind you.
Make note of which areas of your back naturally make contact with the wall, and which do not.
From here you will transition to a posture with a focus on proper alignment. With your back against the wall, shift your body so that the following areas are the only ones making contact with the wall (in order from bottom to top):
1: The lower vertebrae, or the bottom of the spine right above the tailbone
2: In between the shoulder blades
3: The back of the head directly behind the eyes (Pretend you’re wearing sunglasses and trace them as though they extend all the way to the back of your head; this is what area should be making contact with the wall.)
This properly aligned spine should NOT require a chin tuck!
- Many people both practice and preach that proper head posture involves tucking the chin, but a properly aligned neck does not majorly engage frontal neck muscles (like the sternocleidomastoid or extensors and flexors in the front of the neck). With correct alignment, the rear neck muscles (including superficial muscles like the upper traps, as well as smaller, deeper muscle groups underneath) are mostly responsible for the maintenance of the head in its proper position.
- In other words, if you feel the front of your neck majorly engaging, you’re chin tucking! And that’s a no-no.
An excellent way to gain the strength required for posture maintenance is to use exercises that localize the movements. In other words, work out the muscles required to keep that head up high!
- Lay with your back on the ground, knees bent and the feet on the floor.
- We’ll start small with this exercise to get a feel for what muscles to engage. Gently press the back of the head into the floor.
To make sure you’re not tucking the chin, use the sunglasses trick mentioned above and trace a line with your fingers starting at the eyes, over the ears, and to the back of the head as though you’re wearing wrap-around sunglasses. This is the area of the head that should be pressing into the floor.
- Step 1: Do 5–10 reps of this gentle head press. Use your fingers to feel the back of the neck underneath the head as you go, feeling the trapezius engage. Does one side engage more than the other? How does this feel? Try and even it out by shifting the head.
- Step 2: While keeping the same form and engagement, begin lifting the upper back an inch or two as you press the head into the floor. If you’re able, lift the arms above your chest so they’re perpendicular to the floor as you press the head. 5–10 reps of this exercise.
- Step 3: Continue this movement, but increase the height of the lift. Lift the back higher with each rep until the entire back is off the floor. (Listen to your body: if there is pain or discomfort, don’t go as high. It should be working out your neck, not straining anything.) 5–10 reps.
As well as neck exercises, it’s important to exercise the shoulders and back, which support the neck.
NOTE: All of the following exercises are done laying face-down with the arms extended over head or to the side. If you are unable to perform them face-down, you can stand up and bend at the waist until you’re at an angle with the floor (this will make it a tad easier.)
Y’s: 5–10 reps
- Place the arms overhead in a Y shape. Roll the shoulders back and plug them into the sockets. Using the shoulders, raise the arms upward and aways from the floor and return them to the ground.
T’s: 5–10 reps
- Extend the arms out to the side in a T shape, in line with the shoulders. Roll the shoulders back and plug them into the sockets. The palms are facing the wall in-front of you. Similarly to the Y’s, raise them away from the floor and then return them to the ground.
W’s: 5–10 reps
- By now, you probably see a bit of a pattern. Just like Y’s and T’s, make a T shape and bend the elbows into a W, palms facing the wall in front. Keeping the shape, raise the arms towards the ceiling and back to the ground.
This might seem a bit strange, but it’s a great way to realize how often you slip into a slouch. It keeps the upper back in tip-top shape.
- Find a rope, an extra-long belt, or an exercise/yoga strap if you have one. Even a long, thin piece of fabric will work. Wrap it around your neck like a scarf, hanging down over the chest. Then, take each corresponding side under the matching armpit and around the back, tying them together in the front.
Again, you may feel a bit goofy, and perhaps a bit restricted. Wear this for a couple hours as you do computer work or use your smartphone, and you’ll find yourself noticing how often you’re inclined to slump into bad posture.
If you’re feeling inspired and want to give your body the love, attention and challenge it deserves, head on over to a pilates or a yoga class. These will help your Text-Neck symptoms.
- Pilates is amazing for alignment and strength. If focuses on deep muscle groups that we forget about, activating and engaging them so they can join in the support of your body. It’s also great for teaching the tricks and tools of alignment, focussing on the spine’s natural curves and how to move in sync with with them.
- Yoga is great way to incorporate building strength with grounding, mindful movement. You’ll leave a class feeling as though you worked out physically, mentally and spiritually. In regards to the neck, back and shoulders, it aids in increasing mobility, flexibility, and strength through various postures and flows, which in turn impact alignment and posture.
As well as the specified exercises mentioned above, try and adjust the way you use your smartphone (or read/operate a computer).
Keep your smartphone at eye-level as often as you can.
This is done easily by sitting at a table and placing the elbows on the surface of the table, bringing the hands to eye-level and reducing the need to bend the neck.
Be mindful in your usage, and try to bring it to eye-level as often as you can. Saying goodbye to that serious slouch will have your body thanking you!
It may seem a bit awkward to hold your phone to high up, but you’re saving yourself a world of pain.