July 16, 2013

Got Text-Neck?


Text-neck. No, it’s not the latest in Southwestern cuisine.

Doctors are now using this phrase to describe pain or injuries of the shoulders, head or neck, as a result of repeatedly looking down at a smart phone or handheld devices.

Remember when your mom warned not to make a funny face or you would be stuck like that? Well guess what? Keep texting, bent over for hours and days on end and you will end up stuck like that!

The spine is made up of a series of “S” curves; the neck being a concave curve. When people are looking down at a smart phone, they are flexing the neck, taking it from its natural position into a convex curve (the opposite action, extension, would be looking up towards the ceiling, enhancing the natural curve).

While the neck is very mobile and is meant to move in multiple directions, repeatedly holding the texting position can cause serious damage to the ligaments, tendons, and cervical discs.

Further, when looking down at a device, the shoulders round forward, collapsing the chest and impeding on breathing. Digestion is affected as well.

What a pain in the neck!

So how do you prevent text-neck?

There is nothing healthier than trying to find elements of tadasana (samasthiti) or standing mountain pose, in everything that you do. In tadasana, the natural curves of the spine are maintained. When standing, the crown of the head is aligned over the anklebones. The chin is parallel to the floor and the ear holes line up with the sides of the neck. The upper arm bones align below the ears. Even if you are sitting, you can find tadasana by finding a tall seat.

Photo: JohnnyMrNinja

Here are some other tips:

Try to hold your device up to eye level. Keep your outer upper arms tucked towards the side of the body and chest lifted.

Text lying down.

Use voice-texting. That, Siri, sure is something special.

Put your phone down and speak to someone face to face.

Either way, we can re-pattern old habits by becoming more mindful. Instead of looking at text-neck as another thing you have to worry about, look at it as a reminder to remain totally conscious and aware in all that you do. After all, isn’t that yoga?



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Ed: B. Bemel

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