Text Neck (also called forward head posture)

Tech neck, also called “forward head posture”, is a common postural deviation where the head protrudes forwards. It is often called “tech-neck” because it is especially prevalent in those who spend prolonged time using technical devices like computers and mobile phones.

In a neutral head posture, your ears are lined up with your shoulders when viewed from the side. In forward head posture, your head leans forward often caused by poor posture habits. In fact, a recent study found that bending your head at a 60-degree angle to look at a mobile phone puts 60 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine, the part of the spine above the shoulders. According to the the author, Dr. Hansraj, “As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees”. This extra weight (of up to 4 bowling balls!) adds extra stress to the neck muscles and may lead to early “wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries” according to the author.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

It is important to note that most people have some degree of forward head position because of our sedentary lifestyle and poor posture habits. Usually a person with a higher degree of forward head posture has tight muscles in the back of the neck and weak muscles in the front of the neck. Forward head can lead to chronic neck pain, improper breathing or difficulty swallowing, low back or mid back pain, headaches, and possibly numbness in the arms and hands. If you are experiencing numbness, tingling, weakness, difficulty breathing, burning pain, or prolonged headaches please consult your medical professional immediately. 

Self Assessment

Here is a simple test you can perform yourself to feel whether you have a forward head posture. First, lie on a firm surface such a floor or table. A normal spine in terms of shape and mobility will allow you to lie flat with the head and neck in a neutral position where you are looking straight upwards. If there is a a large space between your neck and the floor, and if the chin shoots upwards, and your are looking slightly behind you, it is indicative of a forward head posture.

How can we prevent text neck?

To prevent text neck, make sure you are using your devices in an ergonomically correct position. Make  sure your phone and computer screens are at eye level when using them so you avoid looking down. This means that when using your phone you should hold the phone up high in front of you, rather than down by your waist.

How can we correct text neck?

To correct text neck, it is recommended to work with a Spiral Health postural alignment therapist. He or she will guide you through a custom routine of corrective exercises depending upon your unique posture. While each persons posture type is different, the following exercises are a good place to start to improve a forward head posture. If you live in the San Diego area, you can visit PRI-SD.com for a free consultation.


Exercises for Forward Head Posture

Upper Spinal Floor Twist

Purpose: This static hold is a great way to increase the rotational mobility of your spine. </p>

Equipment Needed: A mat, if the floor you are working on is hard.

Instructions

Step 1: Lie down on your right side in a fetal position, with your ankles, knees, and hips stacked one on top of the other.

Step 2: Extend your arms straight out in front of you, with your palms together, and your elbows straight.

Step 3: Place your right hand on top of your left knee to maintain alignment in the knees throughout this movement.

Step 4: Reach your left arm up and cross your body, over to your left side. Bring the back of your hand as close to the floor as you can, while maintaining the alignment in your hips and knees.

Step 5: Take deep breaths and hold this posture for 1 minute, before switching sides.

Static Wall Pullovers

Purpose: In this static hold, you will stabilize your hips to promote proper function of your shoulders.

Equipment Needed: If you are on a hard floor, use a mat. You will also need access to a wall and a pillow.</p>

Instructions: 

Step 1: Lie down with your hips as close to a wall as possible.

Step 2: Extend your legs straight up the wall so that your feet are hips-width apart. You will need to flex all ten toes back towards your face.

Step 3: Place a pillow on the floor directly behind/above your head.

Step 4: Reach your arms directly above your chest, locking out your elbows, and interlace your hands together. <BR>

Step 5: Keeping your elbows completely locked out, reach your hands above you so that your hands make contact with the pillow.

Step 6: Keep your stomach completely relaxed. Apply a downward pressure into the pillow, and then relase. Complete this for 30 repetitions.

Standing Arm Circles

Purpose: Enhance the function of your lower back and strengthen your shoulder blades with pelvic stabilization.

Equipment Needed: None

Step 1: Stand up right with your feet parallel, and hips-width apart.

Step 2: Find a golfer’s grip by curling the tips of your fingers in towards the palm, with your thumbs extended.

Step 3: Reach your arms straight out from your shoulders.

Step 4: With your palms facing down and your thumbs facing forward, begin to rotate your hands in small, tight circles. To begin you’ll rotate the fist up, and forward in the direction of the palm. Repeat this 30 times.

Step 5: Flip your palms so that your palms and the eye of your elbows face upwards. Repeat the rotations, but this time in the opposite direction. you will begin by lifting your hands, and then reaching them back in the direction of your thumbs. The movement should come from your shoulder.

Step 6: Repeat 30 times.

Standing Elbow Curls

Purpose: Promote proper extension of the mid-spine and strengthen your shoulders and chest, all while stabilizing your lower body.

Equipment Needed: Wall

Instructions

Step 1: Stand upright with your back as close to a wall as possible. Ideally the back of your head, your hips, and entire spine are in contact with the wall. <BR>

Step 2: Place your hands into a golfer’s grip and bend your elbows to bring your knuckles to lightly touch your temples.

Step 3: Tilt your pelvis forward to place a slight curve into your lower back.

Step 4: Bend your elbows inwards to touch in front of your face. Re-extend them out wide.

Step 5: Repeat as instructed.

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