Are you reading this article from your smartphone or tablet? Most likely, you are. Have you ever heard of “text neck?” Is your head forward, shoulders rounded, and back slumped? Text neck is becoming an epidemic.
The way we hold our phone compresses and tightens the muscle, tendon, and ligament structures in front of the neck while lengthening the muscles, tendon, and ligament structures behind the neck.
Getting rid of our smartphones is not a reasonable fix, but there are exercises we can do to help.
- Start by sitting at your desk or standing comfortably with your shoulders relaxed. With your mouth closed — teeth touching but not clenching — look up to the ceiling.
- Pause here and let your jaw relax and open your mouth. Now see if you can bring your head further back an inch or two.
- Keep your head still here and bring your lower jaw to your upper jaw, closing your mouth. You should feel a stretch in the front of your neck.
- Begin on all fours. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, reaching your hip bones toward the ceiling.
- Reach your heels back toward the mat, but don’t let them plank on the ground.
- Drop your head so that your neck is long. As you stay here, make sure that your wrist creases stay parallel to the front edge of the mat.
- To alleviate the pressure on your wrists, press into the knuckles of your forefingers and thumbs.
- Breathe here for at least three deep breaths. Then release.
- Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, your hips stacked over your knees, and the tops of your feet pressed into the ground. Look down a few inches in front of your fingers and lengthen from your head down to your tailbone.
- To begin the ‘cat’ phase, use your abs to curl your spine toward the ceiling while tucking in your tailbone (making the shape of a Halloween cat) as you exhale. Lengthen your neck and allow your chin to reach down and in, toward your chest, so your ears come down by your biceps.
- To begin the ‘cow’ phase, swoop and scoop your pelvis so your belly drops down to the floor as you inhale. Broaden across your shoulder blades, drawing your shoulders away from your ears, and lift your chin and chest to gaze up toward the ceiling.
- Cycle through Cat-Cow a few times, keeping stress and pressure out of the head and neck.
- Take off your shoes and begin with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, bend forward, letting your arms touch the floor. If it’s difficult, take your arms only as far as it’s possible without straining.
- Bend your knees and lift the balls of your feet off the ground to slip your hands, palms face-up, underneath your feet.
- Allow your toes to come right into your wrist creases. Press into your palm with the balls of your feet and relax your head. Breathe here for at least three deep breaths.
- Lie flat on your stomach with your chin on the floor and your hands resting on either side of you.
- Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you can. Reach backwards with both hands and grab onto your outer ankles. As you inhale, lift your heels up toward the ceiling so that your chest, thighs, and upper torso lift up off the mat.
- To intensify the stretch, try to lift your heels higher while keeping your tailbone pressed into the mat. Look forward and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold this position for 10 breaths. Release on an exhale by slowly lowering your thighs, and then the rest of your body, to the ground.
- Sit up tall in a chair and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Without tilting your head in any direction, gently draw your head and chin back, like you’re making a double chin. Be careful not to jam your head back. You should feel a stretch along the back of the neck.
- Now imagine there’s a string pulling your head upward like a puppet, and actively elongate your neck. Actively push the base of your skull away from the base of your neck. Keep your jaw relaxed and hold this position for 3 deep breaths.
- Release your chin forward. Repeat.
And always, call us to schedule your next chiropractic visit. 816.569.6577.