Chances are you’ve been cautioned about “text neck,” a relatively recent condition that refers to pain in the neck caused by straining to see a small, hand-held device. But your cell phone isn’t the only culprit. And “text neck” isn’t new. It’s just a catchy name for an old problem: neck strain due to poor posture.
And while it’s now impacting people at much younger ages, it’s been going on for centuries.
In “proper posture,” the head is held over the shoulders in a neutral position. Looking down with your neck extended for long periods of time puts extra stress on the cervical spine. The more you do this, the weaker your neck muscles become. And weakness begets pain.
The solution? Proper posture! Head held over shoulders in a neutral position. The key to good posture is strengthening the muscles of your upper back (the trapezius, rhomboids, and cervical extensors) and stretching the opposing muscles of the chest to counteract a forward-leaning tendency.
It sounds complicated, but it’s not. In fact, the following simple exercises, done regularly at home, work, or wherever you are, will make a big difference.
- Chin tucks: gently retract or move the head backward while keeping your chin parallel to the earth. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Shoulder blade squeezes: squeeze shoulder blades together to “un-hunch” your posture. Hold for five breaths, release.
- “Doorway Stretch”: Lean forward while bracing your arms against a door frame.
Additionally, simple awareness – being mindful of how you’re positioning your body throughout the day – can go a long way toward alleviating discomfort and pain in your neck.