Most of us tilt our heads more often these days as we look down at our cell phones and other screens. Whether you are spending a lot of time looking at your phone or many hours hunched over a writing or other creative project, you are likely suffering from what is often referred to as "Text Neck."
The human head is a heavy object, and by just tilting it 45 degrees, its weight is triples to 48.5 pounds. Adding this much weight to when in a neutral position causes muscle-tightening and posture-altering over time. In addition, as we continue to lean forward and bend our necks, they lose their natural curve which changes their resting posture.
Before you freak out and start wearing out your arms trying to hold your work directly in front of you, check out these tips from physical therapist, Kristen Gasnick. The stretches she provides focus on the muscles on either side of the neck that raise and lower the head. You'll also want to add strengthening exercises to this mix in order to increase the physical capacity to keep your head in a particular position.
Chin Tucks Retract your head and neck backward while sitting or standing against a wall. With the latter, you'll gain more awareness of what your neck feels like when you are standing completely straight.
Upper Trapezius Stretch Sit in a chair and hold the edge of the seat with one hand, placing the other hand on top of your head, fingertips grazing the opposite ear. Slowly tilt your head toward your shoulder, away from your anchoring arm, rotating your chin toward the ceiling. Hold. To feel more stretch, apply pressure with your hand. Repeat on the other side.
Levator Scalpula Stretch Sit in a chair and hold the edge of the seat with one hand. Bend your head toward the shoulder of the non-anchoring arm. Rotate your chin toward your shoulder to hold the stretch.
Scapular Retractions Sit in a chair and place hands on your hips. Throughout this exercise, keep your shoulders pressed down, away from your ears. Slowly round your upper back, allowing your shoulders and arms to move forward. Next, slowly squeeze shoulder blades together as if you were going to make them touch one another (but they don't need to touch). Repeat.
As with any ailments, consult a doctor, particularly if the pain persists and/or becomes unmanageable. And start slowly with these exercises while also assessing your work environment and making ergonomic changes to assist with future "Text Neck" abettors.