Text Neck: Gateway to Postural Problems
Posture and Possible Cause of Injury
When you have the world at the tips of your thumbs you can easily find yourself rounded forward and squinting to eye what is on your screen. Many professions ask you to spend much of your time sitting and hammering away on projects. Throughout the day we operate in front of ourselves; Whether driving, pouring coffee, or shaking a new business partner’s hand, nearly all activities occur in front of us.
Overtime, we fall into a comfortable yet compromising position. Our head and shoulders begin to fall forward which is problematic for many reasons. The forward position of the head puts pressure on the back of our neck, while shoulders rolled forward tightens the chest and anterior deltoid, creating instability. This position has been coined “Text Neck”. If this unfortunate series of events continues uncorrected, these problematic positions will work their way down the body creating a kyphotic posture, anteriorly tilted pelvis, unstable knees, and flat feet.
Shoulder injuries are very common amongst the average person. One reason for such high causation is due to the shoulder being improperly seated in the shoulder girdle causing impingement and instability. This faulty placement puts forward pressure on the shoulder and can cause pinching pain. The forward shoulder position paired with a rounded back makes it nearly impossible to execute the shoulder press exercise with proper form and positioning.
As depicted, this position asks for a stable trunk, neutral head, and arms placed slightly passed the ear. Note that the shoulder press position closely resembles the first mobilization technique pictured below. Although I’m focusing on the shoulder press exercise, I want to say that the dreaded Text Neck position negatively affects all other exercises as well. Simply saying that you aren’t going to add shoulder presses to your exercise tool box is NOT the answer.
As noted earlier, when in this Text Neck position, the anterior deltoid and chest are tight and the thoracic spine (mid back) is casted in a rounded position. When mobilizing, you generally look to relax one side and strengthen the other. Below, you will find three exercises.
You can begin fixing this issue with mobility techniques, opening with a T-Spine mobilization exercise. Often, once you mobilize your thoracic spine, other things seem to “fall into place.” After the first exercise, we will look to relax your overworked anterior side (chest and shoulders) then we will strengthen your posterior side (Trapezius) to provide postural stability.
T-Spine Overhead Extension Smash - 5 minutes
Lay stomach up placing the foam roller in your mid back (or a stiff area of your upper back). Reaching overhead with your palms facing each other, raise your hips to keep yourself in a straight line. Keeping your core engaged, slowly lower your hips and force your hands down to the ground.
Next, we want to stretch those tight chest muscles while pulling the Humerus to the back side of the shoulder joint.
Banded Lateral Opener - 5 minutes (2 1/5 minutes each arm)
Feed your wrist into a band gripping it loosely. Externally rotating your shoulder (making your palm face upward), open your shoulder and face away from the post. Keeping your core engaged in a staggered stance, relax your shoulder and chest, and let the band pull your shoulder back.
Finally, we want to strengthen the Trapezius muscle group. The Traps are responsible for extending your neck, shrugging your shoulders and keeping your shoulder blades down.
Face Pulls - 3 sets/12 reps
Grip the rope attachment with your palms facing down using the cable crossover machine. Squeezing your upper back together, pull the rope to your face and slowly relax your arms to straighten them and repeat.
When examining this problem, it is important to note that operating in front of your body is not going away any time soon. This means that after mobilizing your body, if not given the proper attention, you will fall prey to this position time and time again. The key is to mobilize out of this problematic position, then program your exercise to stay on top of it.
When programming exercise or analyzing your individualized plan, look at a couple things. Note: If you don’t suffer from Text Neck you may not see this in your plan and that’s okay.
Since we operate in front of ourselves daily, we need to perform less reps anteriorly and more reps posteriorly. You can manipulate this idea many ways. Look to manipulate reps, sets, overall number of exercises, etc. The name of the game is to increase posterior stimulation to combat the issue of Text Neck.
A1: Push Ups – 3 sets of 8 reps
A2: Seated Cable Row – 3 sets of 10 reps
A1: Push Ups – 3 sets of 8 reps
A2: Seated Cable Row – 4 sets of 8
Manipulating overall number of exercises
A1: Seated Cable Row – 2 sets of 8 reps (posterior exercise)
A2: Push Ups – 3 sets of 8 reps (anterior exercise)
A3: Pull Ups – 2 sets of 8 reps (posterior exercise)
In this example, you have 4 total sets of posterior stimulation vs. 3 sets of anterior stimulation totaling 32 and 24 repetitions, respectively.
If you only read one section:
Your daily habits affect your position (posture)
You need to be aware of your position during the day and make constant tweaks
Mobilize, Stretch, then Stabilize (in that order)
Perform more posterior exercises than anterior