Our green guru on why you need to keep your head up to avoid text neck
In today’s world everything is facilitated by technology: communication, banking, texting, social networking and everything else, all on one device. The device I am of course talking about is the smartphone.
Everybody has one, and everybody depends on one – whether it’s important cosmopolitan business people or teenagers trying to organise the next big party. People spend their lives with their head down, buried in the light emanating from a screen.
There are multiple studies on how this affects us. We have read about the effects these devices have on mental health, becoming just as much a stress factor as they are a help. More people have to wear glasses due to their eyes being ruined from constant concentration on a screen.
However, a recent phenomenon has sprung up called forward head posture. It is also known, appropriately, as text neck. Our necks are designed to distribute weight in a certain way. If we are to keep our head up, the weight distribution on the spine and the rest of our body is less, due to it being positioned in our centre of gravity.
Text neck originates when we spend too much time with our head craned over our screens. It’s quite simple: we are going against the natural design of our body’s construction. This has a visible effect. Go for a walk in the street and look at how many people you can see – people with otherwise perfectly healthy bodies – that seem to have a small hump on the round of their back, or whose shoulders are jutting out slightly forward. These afflictions are consequences of text neck. You could end up experiencing them too if you don’t adjust your posture and your habits.
But it’s not just our appearance that changes. Studies have shown that text neck is also destroying a lot of our psyche at the same time, without us even knowing it.
The constant strains you put on your spine to look at your phone could be the cause of a number of afflictions, such as fatigue or lack of energy, headaches and migraines, bad sleeping cycles, asthma, lack of confidence, dizziness and vertigo… And this is just to name a few. Text neck could be ruining your body text by text. Don’t worry, this is not your fault and you’re not the only person who is just finding out about this.
The neck is held up by a number of muscles and bones, some more important than others. There is, nonetheless, one muscle that is quite a bit more important. This muscle is the complicatedly named sternocleidomastoid. It stems from the collar bone and breast plate, going all the way up to the back of the temporal bone, right at the back of the skull. It becomes a bridge from the head to the body and acts as a balance beam. Due to the area covered by this muscle and the connections it has to the rest of us, its mistreatment can have massive effects on the parts it’s attached to, creating the huge health implications of not having a correct posture. “I spend hours on my phone!” you think worriedly. “Am I too late to fix this?” Don’t worry. You’re not.
Again, this is a mainly overlooked problem that we suffer due to an excessive use of our phones – it is not your fault that you did not know of it. However, now that you are aware of the health issues it is causing you (and those it could bring), it is time to start trying to fix it.
A good place to start is by stretching. Stretching your neck muscles and postural strengthening during the day is an essential step to eliminating this problem, but it isn’t everything. There are a number of exercises to follow if we are to fix this completely. Deep belly breathing exercises will release tension, helping the muscles to relax and, that way, helping to bring our body back into balance. You could also try mobility exercises to unlock the joints in the spine and decrease the stress and damage dealt to it.
Self-massage of the sternocleidomastoid will also release the build-up that has been dangerously gathering in the muscle.
Were we to follow these simple exercises, not only would we fix the visible afflictions created through text neck, we would relieve ourselves of the psychological problems that accompany them. There would be an instant improvement in our confidence, body image, breathing, headaches, sleep, and much, much more.
All this and maybe lifting our head out of the screen to watch the clouds every now and then could add years to a better a life. Who knew?
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