Mar 01, 2021
And now, a guest article by friend and OS Clinician, Dr. Kurt Brooks...
What is Text Neck? Text neck is a phrase that was originated by chiropractor Dr. D. Fishman to describe the neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and general weakness in the back and shoulders due to prolonged texting – typically with the head bent forward, the shoulders rounded, and the upper and lower back slouched.
We don’t think of the head when we talk about lifting weights. But you should know that the adult human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds! When you slouch, the pressure from the weight of your head increases drastically by how far forward your head moves. Try holding a 10-pound weight by your side. Not too hard, right? But try holding that weight straight out in front of you. I bet you don’t last too long!
So, with 87% of teenagers (14-18yo) and 92% of adults (18-34yo) in the USA owning a smart phone, what are we supposed to do? Throw away our phones? No… that would only result in us going back to the 1980’s, and we don’t want that. Do we?
Let’s start with the obvious tips:
1. Avoid long periods of texting and “doom-scrolling”!
2. Take frequent breaks when texting and reading your screens.
3. MOVE OFTEN! (Try the resets listed below.)
4. Raise the device so you don’t have to look down so far.
In this world of hand-held devices, are there any exercises that can counteract the prolonged periods of screen-time? Yes! You can Press Reset! The basic motions you performed as an infant were designed for just such occasions… to restore your natural strength and relieve the discomfort of the punishment you put your bodies through every day.
Pressing Reset is the performance of a movement that improves or adds to the information going to your brain. When the nervous system receives information that it is looking for, it feels safe, and in turn, allows the body to move better and feel better.
Try this set of resets daily to help your neck, upper back and shoulders feel amazing:
1. 10 shoulders rolls – forward and backward. Make’em big ones!
2. Touch your chin to your chest, then look up as high as you can. Lead with your eyes, letting your head follow your eyes. Repeat 10 times.
3. Turn your head to the left as far as you can comfortably. Then to the right. Again, leading the motion with your eyes turning first, then your head following your eyes. Repeat 10 times.
4. Take 5 deep breaths. Keep your lips together and your tongue resting lightly on the roof of your mouth. Breathe in and out through your nose. Filling your lungs – belly first, then your chest. Breathing as full as possible requires you to decrease that slouched posture!
5. “Bird dogs" with a twist. Begin on the floor or bed, on your hands and knees. Lift one arm and the opposite leg up away from each other. The “twist” comes as you turn and raise your thumb up toward the ceiling while following your raised hand with your eyes. This rotates your neck and upper back, helping that lower trapezius muscle in the back of your shoulder to turn back on! Keep breathing normally through your nose and into your belly as you put that arm and leg down. Now repeat that movement on the other side! 10 repetitions on each side should be enough to really make you feel better!
As always, if your discomfort continues to worsen, seek out a professional for assistance. Your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist and fitness instructor are all there to help!
Kurt Brooks, DPT
Kurt is a physical therapist with almost 30 years experience. Working with orthopaedic and sports medicine injuries, he continues to build on his love of learning - from completing a manual therapy fellowship, earning an advanced doctorate in Physical Therapy, to teaching at the Duke University School of Medicine/ Department of Physical Therapy.
His love of movement has evolved from participating in all major sports during his childhood and playing college-level volleyball, to attaining his 2nd-degree black-belt in Tae Kwon Do and challenging himself with Spartan races in time for his 50th birthday. He continues his love of anatomy and biomechanics, of life-long learning, of caring for others, and of movement by incorporating Original Strength concepts into his clinical practice and daily life.