Do you frequently stare down at your phone, computer keyboard or screen? Texting is the new talking. That’s no secret considering the fact that approximately 1 in 3 “texters” would actually rather text than talk. In our hyper-connected society of instant communication, it seems as though our heads stay buried in some kind of screen or device.
Text Neck is becoming an epidemic. Studies show that people under the age of 30 send an average of 3,000 text messages per month. That’s approximately 100 text messages a day! The problem with all this time spent with the head flexed forward is that it increases the risk of developing what has been termed as Text Neck. Oh yes, there is actually a word for it now.
What Is It?
Basically, Text Neck is the modern day term for the more classical health condition known as Forward Head Posture. When Forward Head Posture begins to develop and your head begins to move forward away from its balanced position, the weight of your head begins to increase. In fact, for every 1 inch your head moves forward, the relative weight of the head over the body doubles due to the effects of gravity. This frequent forward flexion causes changes in the cervical spine, supporting ligaments, tendons, and musculature. It can also cause changes in the spine’s bony segments, which commonly causes postural change.
So, what can you do to support and strengthen the muscles of the neck and spine, in order to counteract the effects of all this looking down? Prevention is key – realising you’re engaging in FHP is the first step toward its correction, as is learning what constitutes the natural positioning of your head and overall posture.
- • Start by trying to hold your phone at eye level as much as possible.
- • Take breaks from phones and laptops
- • Practice good office ergonomics.
- • Embrace posture-focused exercises.
Doing Pilates regularly will focus your attention on attaining the right posture. You will become more aware of the way you use your mobile devices in this way.
A carefully guided Pilates program to stretch and strengthen affected muscles can be very beneficial for this condition. The programme should be aimed at posture correction, stretching the pectoral muscles, releasing tight neck extensors and strengthening the deep neck flexors, shoulder retractors and thoracic extensors.
Three exercises I would recommend you do at home and in the studio as part of your program to help counteract and reverse the effects of this condition are Chest Openers, Dart and Rhomboids. Talk to your instructors to get instruction on how to do these movements.
Its overall focus on elongation, proper spinal alignment and breathing makes Pilates an ideal, long-term way to treat and prevent this condition. One more bonus is the mindfulness and body awareness that Pilates creates helps people maintain proper posture in their day to day activities.
Author Joanne Berryman, Revolution Practitioner, APMA Level 3 Member, Dip PMT