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Yoga For Text Neck: Gentle Exercises to Support and Strengthen your Neck and Upper Back

Updated: Jan 25

Rachel looking down at her phone demonstrating forward head posture.

I look at this picture and cringe because I know that this habit will hurt my neck in the long run. This is because the average head weighs 10-12 pounds! In addition, when we do not align our head over our heart space, gravity starts to take over. We begin to poke out our chin further and our shoulders may start to round forward. The muscles at the back of our neck become over-stretched. This in turn causes the front neck muscles to tighten up. This can lead to pain, stiffness and discomfort in the neck, upper back and jaw.

In my opinion, the most important thing that we can do is become aware of these movement patterns. Once I became aware that I was looking down at my phone, I started to bring my phone up to eye level. However, my arms can get pretty tired after holding my phone at eye level for lengthy periods of time. This option may be useful when sending a quick text message, but it is not sustainable when watching a video on the phone.

The following exercises and stretches can help relieve neck tension caused by forward head posture or "text neck."

Chin Tucks:

Forward head posture.

The above picture provides an example of a chin poke (forward head posture or "text neck"), which can occur when we are using technology and while driving. This movement pattern puts a lot of pressure and strain on the neck and upper back body.

Chin tuck exercise.

Take a moment to compare/contrast the two pictures. What do you notice? This is an example of a chin tuck.

In my opinion, chin tucks are a game changer! You can explore chin tucks in a seated position. Place your index finger and middle finger on your chin. Apply gentle pressure as you press your fingers into your chin. This action encourages your head to move back in space, aligning your head over your heart. This action lengthens the back of your neck, improving your neck's alignment with the rest of the spine. The muscles that support your cervical spine (neck) can relax, which can reduce pain, stiffness and discomfort.

Hold this stretch for 3 to 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat these chin tucks 3 to 5 times in a row, and up to 3 times a day.

Scapular Squeeze:

Side angle of scapular squeeze.

Side View of a Scapular Squeeze.

Back view of scapular squeeze.

Back view of a Scapular Squeeze.

Scapular squeezes opens the chest, relieving tension and improving breathing. When we engage in forward head posture, the chest and shoulders typically follow along. The chest caves in and the shoulders round forward. Scapular squeezes counteracts this by creating space throughout the front body, while strengthening the back body.

I invite you to loop your shoulders forward, up and then back. Hug your elbows in towards your side body. Move your shoulders and elbows back in space as you squeeze your shoulder blades closer together. You can imagine that you are pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades.

Hold this stretch for 3 to 5 seconds before relaxing. You can try this exercise 3 times in a row, and aim to do this exercise at least 3 times per day.

Gentle Neck Stretches:

Gentle neck stretch to release tension.

This gentle neck stretch is great for alleviating neck tension, as well as tension in the trapezius muscles and the jaw.

Slowly lower your right ear towards your right shoulder. Feel free to hang out here for at least 10 seconds. You can add to this stretch by extending your left hand away from your body. Flex your hand. Pretend as if you are placing your hand on an imaginary surface. Stay here, or you can move your hand forward and back or up and down.

Hold this stretch for at least 10 seconds and then switch to the other side. You can repeat this stretch 3 times a day.

Neck Circles:

Neck circles to ease neck tension.

I absolutely love exploring neck circles as it is great for warming up the neck muscles and the spine. This is my go-to movement when I experience neck stiffness and tension.

Start off by drawing some slow circles with your nose. When it feels good in your body, you can explore larger circles. After a few moments, you can explore taking this circle in the other direction.

Repeat these neck circles at least 3 times a day for about 30 seconds to encourage some soft and gentle movement throughout your cervical spine.

Lying Down Chin Tuck:

Lying down chin tuck with rolled towel.

First, roll up a towel and place it under the curve of your neck. Place the soles of your feet on the earth with your knees pointing up towards the sky. Tuck your chin in slightly (same action as the first exercise demonstrated in this post). When you do this action, you end up gently pushing your head down towards the floor. This subtle and gentle movement can lengthen the back of your neck, releasing tension from the front of the neck.

Hold this stretch for about 3 to 5 seconds and then relax. I invite you to repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times per day.

A kind reminder to breathe as you engage in these gentle stretches designed to support and strengthen your neck and upper back body.

I hope that you find these exercises and stretches useful!

I invite you to check out my Yoga for Text Neck practice if you are looking to improve your neck health.


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1 opmerking

Miguel / Michael
08 jul. 2020

You said it best that the issues resulting from poor posture sometimes are easiest corrected through simple awareness. I really enjoy these portable stretches I can take anywhere too. The visuals were great to help me set an example baseline where I should be. Love your scapular squeeze - great model form and symmetry to aspire too. Thanks for sharing!

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