Occasionally tilting your head toward the ground is, you know, normal, given that the neck is supposed to tilt, twist, and bend. But the explosion in smartphone use over the past several years has meant more people looking downward, and more often. It’s not just annoying if you’re trying to walk down the street — research has found that constantly looking at your phone can put up to 60lbs of extra force on your spine, leading to the dreaded condition known as “text neck.”
If you don’t want a life of headaches and spinal pain, the best option is to hold your phone directly in front of you while using it. Since you’re probably not going to start walking down the street while holding your smartphone directly in front of your face, you should at least try to counteract the problem and start incorporating these four exercises into your daily routine.
Jeff Miller, a personal trainer with more than 20 years experience in the fitness industry, points out that “text neck” is part of a bigger set of problems that he terms “screen slouch,” explaining, “The slouch really starts in the knees, kicks in at the hips, and gets really bad by the time you get to your shoulders and neck.” Because text neck, ultimately, affects your entire body, he suggests starting with an exercise that emphasizes proper posture: the good ol’ chair squat.
Stand directly in front of a sturdy chair with your feet shoulder-distance apart, your arms at your sides. Keeping your spine straight, your shoulders pulled back, and your chest lifted, press your hips back and bend your knees to sit down in the chair. Tap your butt lightly on the chair, then reverse the movement and stand up, again keeping your core engaged and your spine straight. Perform three sets of six to 10 squats. You can disperse these throughout the day as you see fit.
To counteract the inevitable shoulder-hunch associated with texting, Miller suggests adding three sets of resistance-band rows. Simply anchor the resistance band around something sturdy — a signpost, column, door handle, or heavy piece of furniture — and back up so the tubing is pulled taut, but not tight.
Extend your arms fully in front of your body, position your feet shoulder-distance apart, and bend your knees slightly. Roll your shoulders backward, then pull both elbows in toward your body, bending them to 90 degrees, in a rowing motion. Reverse the movement and steadily extend your arms fully. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, really squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull the band toward you.