A conscious 21st century citizen wants to avoid the kind of chronic neck, shoulder and back pain that is onset by excessive cell phone use. The pain is a derivative of posture: texting and browsing increases the amount of time you spend stooping over your phone, multiplying the weight of your head in relation to the spine for every further degree forward. Over time, this position creates imbalance as muscles compensate to make up for the increased weight, becoming strained in the process. Here is some minute, yet significant adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to prevent these injuries.
Utilize the eye muscles! Rather than moving your entire head forward to interact with the phone, practice this posture: keep the elbows anchored to your side and raise the phone ever so slightly, then lower your eyes, keeping the neck straight and the head forward. Though it may feel awkward at first, your neck will thank you!
Be cognizant and take breaks when texting and browsing for long periods of time. If you can remember, incorporate simple stretches into your breaks to relieve the accumulating tension in your neck:
Gently rotating your neck left and right, forward and backward is effective for giving static muscles a break.
Move the neck from side to side, touching ears to shoulders a few times. This keeps the joints in your neck supple. Remember, it is your head moving to the shoulder, rather than the opposite.
Forward flexion: move the chin downward until you feel muscles in the back of the neck kick in, telling you to go no further. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
The goal is to keep the muscles limber and increase their strength, making them more resistant to injury.
Do not stretch until you feel pain! Practice these exercises slowly and within your comfort range. At Espinosa Family Chiropractic, we offer expertise on proper stretching techniques for many injuries. These exercises can be used to prevent and relieve neck pain caused by any number of conditions.