Rare is the person without a smartphone or tablet of some sort these days! You may have seen articles in the press about ‘text neck’ or similar words, describing that head-down, head-forward posture we adopt when using our mobile devices on the move. Whilst it is not an official ‘condition’, it can usefully label neck or shoulder pain, when there is no other more obvious cause. You may have noticed it in yourself – tension across the shoulders, minor neck ache, perhaps even a mild headache, when you have been using your mobile phone or tablet. We would always recommend you come into clinic for a consultation if you are concerned about it, but what can you do in the mean time? Here are 2 simple exercises which can be done at your desk, on public transport or in the car, which can ease that area when it feels uncomfortable. (As always, do not do them if they cause you pain, or if you have an injury in that area already. Only do them if it is safe to do so).
1. Shoulder roll: Sit back, head up. Lift the shoulders. Roll them back, and as you do this, squeeze your shoulder blades down your back. This should be a light, gentle move, with no strain. It will gently stretch your chest muscles, and contract your upper back muscles – the opposite of what is happening when we gaze down at our smart phone or tablet. If you are not sure, ask when you are next in clinic for a demo!
2. Head press: Sit or stand so that you have something solid behind your head (the high back of a chair, a door etc.). Let the back of your head rest on this surface. Gently press your head back against this surface for a few seconds. Relax. The emphasis of which neck muscles are doing the work of holding your head up changes, and, like the shoulder roll, works different muscles to mobile phone or tablet gazing. Always happy to demo if you are not sure, at your next appointment.
We advocate taking regular breaks from staring down at your smartphone or tablet, looking up and seeing the rest of the world! As always, if you have any questions, we will be delighted to discuss them with you at your next appointment.