Text Neck..What on Earth is THAT?
By: Coach Monica Niska
The Newly Defined Text Neck (And What to Do About it!)
Do you know how much time you spend looking at your smartphone or tablet everyday, or even every hour? The truth is this mini pieces of technology have taken over our lives with a lot of good, but yet some more negative results. Personally, I’m kind of old school when it comes to technology.
I still read books with actual paper pages and even though I love my iPhone, nothing in me desires the Apple Watch! I still hand write my tasks for the next day in a notebook and when I take notes at a seminar, it’s always on paper.
But, even with all that, I check Facebook and Snapchat constantly, my phone houses my calendar, my banking and all my playlists to teach spin class. And then of course there are the apps that we can’t live without! Like most of you, my phone has my life in it. Word on the cyber street is that those of us 18-44 years young may be prone to this trendy term called “text neck.”
Cute, not so cute, eh? So what exactly is this text neck?
There are a couple of ways to identify it:
1) Pain or stiffness in the back of the neck (on your c-spine)
2) Tightness around your neck or that feeling like your shoulders are in your ears
3) More extreme is radiating pain or tingling down your arm and potentially into your hand
4) Your posture: look in the mirror from the side. If you have a little hump at the base of your neck, it could be text neck
Ok, so what do we do about it?
The goal here is not to tell you to limit screen time, go on a social media fast, quit your job because there’s too much typing, or anything of the like. Let’s tackle this in a way that’s realistic and doesn’t cause withdrawal symptoms!
Here are some practical practices you can easily implement at your office, at the gym or at home.
At the Office:
1) Take advantage of the ergonomics program (if your company has one) and have your posture and positioning evaluated.
2) Practice shoulder rolls, the door frame stretch, and side to side neck stretches.
For shoulder rolls, bring your shoulders up toward your ears and then rotate back squeezing your shoulder blades together. Take your time and do 8-10 reps every couple hours.
With the door frame stretch, place your forearms on either side of an open door frame. Lean your chest forward, pulling your shoulder blades together and stretching your chest.
Notice a pattern?
Whenever you think of it, check your posture and bring your shoulders back.
3) For side to side neck stretches, gently and slowly tilt your head side to the left and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the right.
Some of you may get dizzy stretching your neck, one of the reasons could be extreme tightness. If you do get dizzy, check in with your doctor, or a trusted chiropractor or licensed massage therapist for suggestions.
At the Gym
1) Focus on core and back exercises. If you’re training already at 202strong, trust the programming, it already encompasses this next part! Focus on strengthening your upper back versus your chest at a ratio of 2:1. The translation is for every 1 chest exercise, do 2 back exercises, whether it’s in a single workout or throughout the week. Pull-ups, ring rows, overhead squats, snatches, and burpees (yes, burpees), are all great exercises to strengthen your upper back and improve posture. Strengthening your core will help with your spinal stability (among many other stupendous benefits). Hollow rocks, knees to elbows or toes to bar, planks, superman, and all the exercises listed above, help to improve core strength and improve spinal strength.
2) Mobility Make a friend with a foam roller! This can be done at home or at the gym. Two exercises to try out: First, lie on a long foam roller, so it runs down your spine. Your head, neck and butt should all be on the roller. Be sure you are in a comfortable position with no spasms. If you do feel spasms, find a comfortable position before proceeding, and/or just focus on getting into the position without issue, but don’t move on the A and B yet.
A) Chest opener (chest flies): bring your hands together, with arms straight up over your chest. Open your hands, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are grabbing the foam roller with your back and bring your arms out to the side. Hold for 2-4 seconds and return to the start. Repeat 8-12 reps.
B) Snow Angels: start with your arms by your sides with palms down. Lift your arms overhead and then rotate your arms out in a big circle, palms facing outward. Repeat 8-10 times.