You wake up, shower and check your phone while grabbing breakfast then head for work. The boring train commute is made more bearable by the book you read on your tablet.
You reach the office and spend the day with eyes fixed on the laptop, taking a break at lunchtime to catch up with what’s going on in the world of Facebook/twitter/Instagram (insert or delete as applicable!). Then it’s home on the train again, picking up a now ubiquitous free evening paper as you go.
After a day of sitting, you head to the gym for an evening workout, a spin class with some tough abdominal crunches to finish before collapsing on the sofa, phew……..
Reading the paper, looking at your phone, tablet, laptop, slouching on the sofa and even working out on a spin bike and doing ab crunches, your head is forward of your spine.
The average adult human head weighs around 5 KG. However, there is growing evidence to show that by tilting your head forward to look at a phone, tablet, laptop or book, significantly increases the load on your spine.
You may just be taking a slight downwards gaze without noticeably bending your neck but just a 15 degree tilt produces a load of 12 KG on your spine. At the extreme end of the scale (picture the shape of a typical tech obsessed teenager) a forward title of 60 degrees produces a load of 27 KG on the spine.
The muscles and other soft tissue in the front of the neck, shoulder and chest will shorten, whilst those in the back of the neck, shoulders and upper back become stretched and weak.
Eventually, there may even be a change in the shape of the vertebrae of the neck and thoracic spine to accommodate this habitual bad posture. Add to that an exercise regime of cycling, running and weight training and you perpetuate that head forward, C shape, shortening the abdominal muscles and hip flexors.
Put all of this together and it is no wonder we are experiencing an epidemic of back and neck pain!
Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means advocating that you should give up technology and exercise. However, by being mindful of these not so positive movement patterns, you can make your body feel better.
The simplest asana but so perfectly balanced. The feet are evenly pressed into the floor, toes spread. Muscles in the front of the legs draw up, not locking the knees, the pelvis is level and the tail bone is drawing down. Lower belly is engaged as are shoulder blades giving the torso stability and creating softness in the shoulders and neck. The chin is slightly tucked towards the throat and the crown of the head is lifting.
Works the whole body from the heels to the head. If you have tight hamstrings, bend the knees slightly and concentrate on feeling your weight moving back towards the heels. Press the whole hand evenly into the mat, engaging the stabilising muscles of the shoulder blades by rotating upper arms outwards.
Approach from downwards facing dog, lowering onto the elbows while keeping the shoulder blades drawing down the back. The asana will engage core muscles, especially those of the shoulder blades.
Lengthens hamstrings and opens up the fronts of the shoulders. Keep the Quads and lower belly switched on to support your back as you gently encourage the hands to move overhead. Weight is slightly forward, head is heavy, allowing muscles of the neck to release.
Start with gentle back bends to build strength in the lower back and open the front of the body. Make sure your legs are strongly engaged and pressing into the mat, keep the neck long rather than tipping the head back. Shoulders should be soft.
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When I am looking at my phone or tablet on the table I really do notice the back of my neck straining, and I have to look up to straighten it. But it would be awkward to hold the gadgets at eye level.
Back in the nineties it was RSI from typing - now we are wrecking our necks with constant phone use. Very wise advice, let's break the addiction.
I really like the PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA C move, (although I never knew it was called that before!). I find that it loosens up any upper and lower body tensions better than almost anything else and gets me deep breathing very strongly.
Very worrying reading about how muscles can harden due to looking at devices. I don't do yoga but this has definitely made me more aware of how much I am leaning forward, as I do have occasional neck ache.
this is so timely with my aching back today! I just bought a tablet and I'm making all the mistakes that you mention. Something will change right now.