How To Avoid Neck Strain (While Looking At Your Phone All Day)

Neck pain and poor posture come from a myriad of problems, and looking down at your phone constantly may be one trigger. In her video, Doctor Jo, DPT and a licensed physical therapist, suggests a couple of neck stretches to help counter the effects of all that texting and reading Lifehacker on your phone.

A Better Way To Text That Doesn't Kill Your Neck

We've already gone over the downsides of what constantly looking down at your phone does to your poor neck (hint. it's not pretty). But rather than telling you to stop using your phone, here is a neck-friendly way to hold your phone for texting and checking how many likes you got on Instagram.

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When you bend your neck forward, over time the muscles in the front of your neck, shoulders and upper chest tighten up and tend to pull your shoulders and neck slightly forward, which altogether looks like bad posture. So Doctor Joe demonstrates a couple of stretches here:

  • A chin tuck. Instead of pulling your neck toward your chest, try to make a double chin.
  • Pull your shoulders back to help stretch those pecs. I also like this push-up-to-yoga-move combination and these back stretches.
  • A variation of the chin tuck where you're lying on your back on the floor. Place a rolled up towel or shirt behind your neck for support and so that you can imagine you're "pushing" your neck muscles into the towel.
  • An upper back stretch, where you begin lying on your stomach, with your chest supported by a pillow, and imagine raising your chest until you feel a stretch in your upper back. You should not be using your lower back here.

I sit at a desk for hours and also love looking at Twitter on my phone, so it isn't surprising I struggle with tightness and general unpleasantness in my neck and shoulders, too. Then a while ago, I learned from Kate Galliett about a better way to look at and text on my phone to save my neck: I prop my elbows against my body for support and to hold my phone near eye level, which keeps me from cranking my neck forward. It's important to keep your neck as upright as possible, because every 2.5cm it comes forward places approximately 5kg of force on it. This video also shares a couple of great examples of how to text without killing your neck.

We talk about posture a lot, but good posture isn't something that some people just magically have. You learn to be more aware of what your body does and make a conscious effort to "fix it" whenever possible, and to stretch and be more active. I'm not perfect at always catching my own bad postural habits either, but when I can I try to quickly correct it.

Text Neck Pain Relief Stretches & Exercises [Ask Doctor Jo]


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