Smart phones….what an awesome invention and a postural nightmare all at the same time!
Look around, everyone has their head down looking at their phone. So we look down at our desk, look down at our computer, and now we text and surf our phone whenever we have one minute of free time.
The neck was not designed to be like this. When you put this kind of stress on the body, the brain starts making changes to protect itself. First it shortens and tightens the muscles and eventually it starts changing the curvature of the spine. If this is left unchecked, disc degeneration and arthritis will follow. I have teenagers who are developing the “little old lady” hump before leaving high school!
To counteract this you need to stretch the anterior muscles and ligaments of your neck on a regular basis. Here are 3 ways to do this at home.
- Turtle stretch – take your chin and suck it back as far as you can (imagine a turtle hiding in its shell) Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.
- Bed stretch – Lie on your back on top of your bed. Scoot your body until only your neck is off the bed, allowing your head to lean back as far as possible. Let your neck “hang” in this position. Start with 30 seconds…build up until you can relax for 5 minutes in this position. Think of this as “undoing” some of the postural stress you do to your neck all day long.
- Use a posture pump – Lie on the floor, put the pump under your neck, Velcro the straps in place and use a dual chamber pump to stretch the cervical spine into its proper position. This puts fluid into the discs and stretches the tight ligaments, tendons and muscles of the anterior neck. This works the best, but requires an investment. The dual chamber with the most pressure to change the neck curvature is normally $250. I bought several to get a good discount. They are on sale for $190 while they last.
Obviously, the last thing you can also do is get adjusted. If you put your head into a bad position regularly, the stress it places on the nerves forces the brain to “protect” and lock your neck and upper back down. So improve your posture, stretch your neck back into extension regularly, and get adjusted!
Until next time, be happy, healthy, and smart!