text neck

Text Neck: Keep It Up, By Working Down

Loaded title, I know.  I did that on purpose.  Read on to find out why.

The internet was alight with a new BUZZ word a year or so ago.  A pigeon-hole description of an avoidable postural misalignment 'caused' by looking at handheld electronic devices.  (Notice I place 'caused' in quotes).  The term is:

TEXT NECK

This was such a perfect example of what more and more teens are displaying posturally, but I'm NOT jumping on the 'shame on you' bandwagon like other people.  As an alignment therapist, I do NOT believe this condition is caused solely because of texting.  We are giving texting a bad rap, just like sitting.  Let me explain why.

The Human Body Is Designed to Text

This kid has been texting so long, his body adapted to this position.  And Rightly So!  Any repetitive motion will be memorized in the body.  Its designed to do that

This kid has been texting so long, his body adapted to this position.  And Rightly So!  Any repetitive motion will be memorized in the body.  Its designed to do that

Just like the human body is designed to sit.  The body is designed to back bend, swim, run, twist, sleep, bicycle, throw, and sit some more.  It is repetitive motion ANY MOTION or REPETITIVE POSITION that gets memorized in the body.   Its called adaptation.  It happens because your body is a lazy piece of shit.  It is trying to expend as little energy as possible, as per its efficient design.

 Its not the texting that caused this, instead he is NOT giving his body balanced stimulation in other forms to interrupt the pattern displayed in the photo.  You see not everyone who texts, ends up in this position.  So it can't be the texting that is causing it.  Instead lets understand

THE BODY WE BRING TO THE TEXTING

There is much more going on here than a neck in deep flexion.  The hips are dictating flexion through the spine, to the shoulders, and finally at the head.  Its not just the head's fault, so we can't chase a symptom of a deeper problem.  When this kid stands up, his shoulders stay just like you see in the photo, because his pelvis is tucked under and bailing forward of his knees.  Not a big deal, because we are designed to do that too.  But if he is experiencing pain, lethargy, foggy thinking, depression etc, his position is becoming a limiting factor in his life experience.  

When his mother makes an appointment for him, smart woman that I suspect she is, I'm not going to go after his phone addiction.  He can either keep this pattern going, by continuing to work facing down in his lap, or he can facilitate a new head position (ie. keep his head up) by working down in his hips to strengthen the underlying structures that hold his spine, shoulders and head in alignment.  (Does the title wording make sense now?)

Here is what I'd give him on the fly, since I never actually talked to him or his mom ;-)

Picture 1: You can text all you want while you do this, and support a more aligned head over time (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 1: You can text all you want while you do this, and support a more aligned head over time (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 2: Real easy to hold a phone here while you do this.  Or put the car on cruise control and do this. (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 2: Real easy to hold a phone here while you do this.  Or put the car on cruise control and do this. (photo by Egoscue)

1. Put something between your knees. A fat pillow, your own fist, or even a water bottle (filled with water and cap off, so the joke can be on you, literally). 

2. Get your feet and knees in line with your hips. 

3. Get your feet under your knees.  I'm talking 90 degree angles here, as you see pictured.

4. Roll an arch into your low back from the hips, and relax your shoulders.  Remember I told you its about working down?  We are getting ourselves more HIP DRIVEN here.  Wake up the foundation to support the rest of the structure. 

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5. Now that you're sitting more like picture 2 , do your best impression of THIGH MASTER.  But since you're a teen, you have no friggin' clue who Suzanne Somers is, so just squeeze your knees together on your object of choice, over and over.  Even if you have nothing, put your ankles and knees together, it still works!

Its enough of an interruption that will over time strengthen your base.  Then the top area (head) which people keep complaining about, SELF CORRECTS. 

Thank you grandma, for telling me to put my phone away and keep my shoulders back while I sit.  You’ve got the right idea, but this is a new millennium. 

I’m gonna stick with Kim at SHIFTALIGN who supports what I love to do, and helps me do it BETTER with easy moves that result in sustainable change that won’t cramp my style.
— The Teen in the Photo