The early man used his entire body from head to toe to hunt down animals, gather food and live safely away from the dangerous clutches of animals. The modern man apart from using his fingers, head and neck, does not use most part of the body while working-yes, I am talking about all the software engineers/people working on computers typing away at jet speed on their laptops without moving even slightly here or there all through the day! These people, even if they have never heard of the term ‘text neck’ are sure to feel/experience one.
Tightness and pain slowly crawl up your neck and upper back after working on your system or playing your favorite game of cricket or watching episodes of ‘The Crown’ on your precious smartphone. You don’t realize the number of times you pick your mobile to access the GPRS, send messages or check mails. These can add to the pain in the neck and cause critical problems during your elderly years. Looking at your mobile phone while lying on the bed before sleeping can drastically affect sleep routines. The negative effects of smartphones on our health have been elaborately discussed at www.firsteatright.com
The front portion of the neck experiences pressure every time you look down and so does your back portion of the neck due to muscle contraction that happens when these muscles try to support the weight of the head (around 5 kilograms). Beyond these, text neck tightens the front of the neck and chest that causes discomfort of the shoulders and spinal cord as well.
You would laugh at someone who asks you to refrain from using your smartphones as mobiles have become your best friend these days. Performing simple exercises can help lift off a part of the stress on your neck and back. The amount of time you spend in the ‘text neck’ position, the same amount of time (if not more) should be spent in the opposite position to keep your neck balanced. Individuals become 10% shorter due to spinal compression and exercising for the neck unloads the joints and increases the space between the vertebrae.
Exercise to Counterbalance ‘Text Neck’ Position
Counter the forward-and-down head position by pulling your back such that your head firmly rests between your shoulders. This relaxes the spine muscle and relieves strain in the neck muscle.
Sit upright with your head situated directly above your torso. Now, nod your head from top to bottom slowly to gauge the motion of your top neck joint. Hold up to the bottom of the nod that creates a small double chin for up to 10 seconds and slowly let go. Do not overdo this such that you cut off your breath or hit your chin into the throat.
Lock your hands behind your head in the sitting/standing position. Open out your elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades back. You would be able to feel a stretch in the front of your chest. You can increase this stretch by bringing the head and shoulders back slightly to arch the upper middle back. Hold in this position for 10-20 seconds and release slowly.
Sit at the edge of your seat with legs apart and your feet turned out at 45 degrees. Keep your arms loose on your sides and your palms facing forward. Sit straight with your head back over your shoulders. Take about 10 deep breaths in and out. Repeat the same again.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.