Are you reading this on your phone? Three quick stretches to do right now
It feels like our whole lives revolve around our phones – it’s kind of scary how naked it feels to go an entire day without one. We can make the New Year’s resolution to “get unplugged” year after year (good luck with that), but it might be more effective to at least minimize the toll on your body.
Carol Green P.T. C.O.M.T, a Clinical Specialist at OrthoCarolina Physical Therapy Eastover Clinic, guided us through the strain we’re putting on our necks and shoulders and a few suggested exercises.
Carol has demonstrated the stretches below, with some help from our fearless, lifts-“heavy”-weights, iPhone-addict founder Ted.
The issues we are self-inducing:
(1) Slumped upper back and forward head posture caused by looking down at the phone for extended periods.
(2) The deep neck flexor muscles (longus coli and longus capitus) in the front get weak due to the head being forward with chin jutted out.
(3) The muscles in the back of the neck (subocciptials) get very tight and hard.
(4) Shoulder blade (scapula) muscles and upper back get weak due to over-stretching of this area from the slumped posture.
(5) Cumulative trauma to the thumbs can occur due to the high repetitions of keystrokes. Your thumb is used in 60% of all hand movements that are performed daily.
(^This sounds serious. Cumulative trauma??)
Prevention of pain and weakness
Do these 15 times, 2-3 times per day. And one of the easiest fixes? Think tall and bring your phone up to chest height so you can look straight ahead.
1) Simply say “yes” with a small head nod (aka give yourself a double chin). Sit tall and nod your chin toward your throat (not your chest) and you can strengthen the deep neck flexors in the front. Do this 15 times at every stop sign or stop light.
2) Pull shoulder blades down and back by clasping hands behind the back to strengthen the shoulder blade muscles.
3) Chicken wings: Arms out to the side with elbows bent to 90 degrees, then squeeze shoulder blades together in the back. Feel the muscles work.
4) Reduce thumb issues by occasionally using other fingers to text even though it may slow you down a bit.
Fun fact for the day
Your head weighs 10-15 pounds, or 8% of your body weight. That might not seem like much, but if you had to hold a 10-pound bowling ball on an outstretched arm all day it would get very heavy. That is similar to what happens with the neck when the head is pitched forward.
(Note: This content was co-created with OrthoCarolina.)
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