The computer-phone in your hand is indispensable, but if you aren’t careful, it will cause you a lot of spinal problems. Neck pain can be debilitating, but it’s easier to fix than most people realize. Tech nerds like me follow writers like Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil because they teach us why we should feel good about technology. Palm sized computers are improving human lives globally. I don’t want to think about trying to manage my life without my phone, but after a serious pain in the neck that kept me from training for almost a week, I don’t let my phone fuck me up anymore.
Why is looking down dangerous?
The human spine is not designed to support a head that is looking down. As the downward head tilt increases, the weight of the head exerts more pressure on the cervical vertebrae. Over time, this will cause muscular dysfunction, neck and upper back pain, and eventually lead to compressed intervertebral discs. Bulged cervical discs exerting pressure on spinal nerves can cause pain radiating into the shoulders and arms. Check out this article about bulged discs. In extreme cases, the pain can be debilitating, making it impossible to turn the head left or right without extreme pain.
Break the habits that cause neck pain!
Hold your phone in front of your face, not below it. Breaking the habit of looking down at my phone has proven fiendishly difficult. Often when we check our phones, we are rushed, distracted, stressed, bored, pissed off, and not mindful. Remembering to think about posture is next to impossible without help. Use the damn phone to remind yourself.
Here are 2 great apps for this:
- Posture Reminder-Estimates if your head is angled downward by using the phones accelerometer and alerts you to straighten up.
- Randomly Remind Me-Can remind you to do any number of things like take a deep breath, drink water, take vitamins, or stretch hip flexors.
Exercises to eliminate neck pain
If you catch yourself looking down, immediately over-correct by looking at the sky. This will reset the neck musculature and keep the cervical spine moving correctly.
- While driving, press the back of your head into the car seat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. This will strengthen the muscles that hold your neck in a healthy position and will improve your posture. Do this on the way to and from work every day. Do this at the earliest onset of neck pain. Often this exercise alone will reduce or eliminate an episode of neck pain.
- Do neck extension exercises every hour or so at work.
For more great information about neck extension exercises, check out the additional reading material here about spinal discs.
- Check out this article about mindfulness training. It will help your neck pain. Improved self awareness is highly underrated for eliminating pain from our lives. We are often unaware that we are holding our breath or standing with poor posture. Instead of popping a few ibubrofen, consider popping into a quiet place for 10 minutes. You will often find you don’t need the pain killers. You need to pay attention to your body.