No More Turtle Head (or how to decompress your neck and upper back)

Next time at a pack of teenagers on their phones, you’ll notice their necks slumping forward. Ouch. Then go to a mirror and look at your own posture, double OUCH.  Regardless of our age or gender, living in the 21st-century means that we’re asked to multitask: phone calls, emails, meetings, working out, driving, being a partner, being a parent, cooking, meditate, detox, binge watch and many more demands. We’re often leaning our heads forward as we peer at our phone or the computer screens, which can be the cause of muscle strains, tension stiffness, compressed neck, disk herniation, spinal compression or a pinched nerve.  AND aesthetically speaking having one’s neck sticking out like a turtle’s head makes one look and feel slumpy and dumpy.    

Some of our current habits are compressing our upper back and shortening our neck.

Roll + Restore

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  • Sitting for long periods of time: According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, not only has inactivity like sitting at a desk for long periods of the day been linked with diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, it can also increase the risk of certain cancers. Our human body evolved to move, stretch and breath, not to sit all day long.  Sitting for long periods slows down all our systems and decreases energy.   Not only do we sit at our desk (or at home watching TV) but we are hunched over our viewing devices, which causes the connective tissue to become “glued” into a slumped posture that actually damages and compresses your entire body.   Are constantly achy around your shoulders and neck?  This could very well be the cause.
  • Phone usage: The average human head weighs about 10 pounds when held upright, but for every inch that your head is tilted forward, extra weight is added to your neck and spine. So guess what we are doing most of the time while trying to read our phones’ screen; we’re titling our head forward!  Additionally, if you make phone calls (Yes, a few of us still do), holding the phone in the crook of the neck, wedged against the shoulder can cause structural imbalances, tightening your fascia and shortening the neck, which can turn into all kind of  pain.  

As I said, our bodies aren’t designed to stay slumped and suffer the aches and pains of this forward posture, these are simple strategies that can help you battle the turtle-head epidemic:

  • If you must sit for long periods of time, first and foremost sit up and avoid slump at all cost! Then every 20 minutes or so (set an alarm) Take deep-breath and roll your shoulders up and down and twist your neck from side. Then every hour (set an alarm) get up and move around. Go outside, and get some fresh air! This will encourage you to realign your body and posture.
  • When using your phones and computers, choose the zoomed display on your phone to make the font bigger, try to avoid writing long messages from your phone, or lean back in your chair and hold the phone up to eye level so that you don’t pitch forward.  Avoid holding your phone to make phone calls, instead Try using a headset, speakerphone, or a hands-free set.
  • Correct the damage done, a very effective way to do this is to stretch and massage the tight muscles along the back of your neck and well as strengthening the muscles at the front of the neck.  Correcting the turtle head starts with strengthening the core and upper back muscles Yoga and Bodymind Ballwork do wonders here!!!
Posted on January 29, 2018 and filed under Ballwork, Yoga, wellness.