Now you can add this to the list of hazards from too much texting: “text neck.”
What I like about “text neck” is that many of us know exactly what it means. It’s the all-too-familiar posture of texting, jutting your head forward and peering downward at that phone screen.
A blurb in the July 2013 Women’s Running magazine flags “text neck” as leading to a number of conditions, including “decreased respiratory muscle strength, disc compression, early arthritis, and even gastrointestinal issues!”
This led me to The Text Neck Institute, which apparently coined the term and describes common symptoms as pain the “neck, shoulder, back, arm, fingers, hands, wrists, and elbows as well as headaches and numbness and tingling of the upper extremities.” Sound familiar?
All those minutes and hours of screen time spent in forward head posture (FHP) add up. And as The Text Neck Institute website puts it, “Your body is sending you a message.”
The pain is a message. Before that message gets loud, urgent and persistent, what can you do? Many of the suggestions I’ve encountered boil down to (1) paying attention (mindfulness) and (2) changing our movement patterns and postural habits.
In daily life activities, start to notice the position of your head relative to your spine and shoulders. Experiment with holding your phone up at eye level rather than looking down at it. Or (gasp!) limit your texting and screen time and take frequent breaks. Common sense, yes?
Yoga therapy also can help by teaching counter-poses and helping us to shift those postural habits; offering practices for strengthening, lengthening, and releasing muscles of the neck, shoulders, and chest; and introducing breathing practices that encourage awareness, relaxation, and stress relief.
This message brought to you by yoga for your (text) neck. Now go on ahead and text and tweet it around, and please remember to watch your head.