Considering how many times a day we reach for our smartphones, a hand without a phone can feel empty. But all that time spent looking down at a screen can create a curvature in the neck and upper back known as “text neck.”
Spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj writes in his research that,“The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees.” In other words, when you tilt your head forward, the weight of your head stretches the back of your neck and travels through your spine.
The average adult head, according to Hansraj’s research, weighs 10 to 12 pounds. As the head tilts forward at 15 degrees, the force seen by the spine increases to 27 pounds, then 40 pounds at 30 degrees, and finally 60 pounds at 60 degrees. That’s a lot of stress on the spine.
You can, however, help reverse the effects of text neck—namely neck and shoulder tightness—with five simple yoga postures. Anyone who has a smartphone or tablet and partakes in texting, countless minutes of uninterrupted Instagram scrolling, or mindless Facebook stalking (so, basically everyone) should try these moves once per day.
Basic neck stretch
Sit tall so that your hips, spine, and shoulders are stacked. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Take five breaths. On an inhale, bring your head upright and exhale. Drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Take five breaths. Inhale to bring your head upright and then exhale. Drop your chin to your chest. Take several breaths here, draping your hands lightly over your head for extra weight if needed. Slowly release and come upright.
Start seated tall or standing. Extend your right arm straight overhead, bend at the elbow, and place your palm between your shoulder blades. Take your left arm behind your back, bend at the elbow with palm facing away, and grab onto your right hand. Hold for 10 deep breaths. To intensify the stretch, send the right elbow high and lean your head back into the crease. Release and repeat on the left.
Tip: If binding hands is not easy for you, grab onto a yoga strap or t-shirt.
Begin in tabletop position, with wrists positioned under your shoulders and knees positioned under your hips. On an inhale, drop your belly and lift your tailbone and the crown of your head to the sky. On an exhale, round your back and pull your chin into your chest as the belly button sucks into the spine. Repeat for 10 cycles of breath.
Stand with feet separated hips-width distance apart (wider if you have tight hips). Fold forward by hinging at the hips, letting your head, neck, and spine drape toward the floor. Take an inhale and come to a flat back by placing your hands on your shins. On an exhale, fold forward. Repeat 10 times. Next, grab opposite elbows and sway side to side to release your low back.
Tip: For an increased neck stretch, lightly drape your hands over your head. If you feel more of the stretch in the backs of your legs, bend your knees until your chest rests on your thighs. Keep weight in your heels.
Start on your stomach with your hands interlaced at your low back. Lift your chest and legs off the floor, then lift your arms off your low back, parallel to the floor. Gaze forward but slightly down to keep your neck long and prevent any crunching in the spinal cord. As you inhale, lift your chest and legs a bit higher. As you exhale, send your fists back toward your feet and feel your spine lengthen. Take several breaths.
Tip: If this bind is not accessible to you, use a yoga strap, t-shirt, or towel.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2015/09/16/text-neck-yoga-poses/
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