Un-Phone Your Body
Extended phone and computer use has become an unavoidable part of everyday life. Most of us spend several hours every day on our phones or using a computer. Our bodies are not designed to stay in the common positions associated with extended phone and computer use for several hours a day, but our bodies will however adapt to these positions. They will do so by shortening and tightening some muscles and underusing others. These imbalances can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. It also can lead to headaches and discomfort or numbness in the arms and legs. The imbalances will affect your performance in the gym as well. Tight rounded shoulders make it more difficult and in some cases impossible to hold weights in a safe, optimal position overhead. This will limit your ability to perform any movement where your hands are overhead (Presses, Pull-ups, Snatches, Overhead Squats, HSPU, etc.). These imbalances can be improved or corrected, but it takes a mindful approach both in and out the gym to see improvement.
Fix Your Posture
The first step in correcting this issue is to correct your posture. Even if you’re doing all the corrective exercises and stretches, it won’t make a difference if you go back to the old mechanics that caused the problem in the first place. Practicing good posture throughout the day and setting up your workstation in a more ergonomic way will help to improve posture and avoid or alleviate discomfort.
- Practice Holding your phone at eye level instead of looking down at your phone
- When working at a desk, adjust your seat height so that your computer/scene is Eye Level
- Practice sitting straight up with your shoulders on the chair instead of being Hunched forward over your desk
- Sit Far enough away from your desk so that you can type with your arms level to the desk
- Practice sitting upright as much as possible. Shoulder blades back, ears aligned with your shoulders
- Take breaks as often as possible to stretches your neck, shoulders, wrist, and to walk around
Neck/ T-Spine Stretches
Sitting with your head tilted down for long periods of time will eventually cause the muscles in the front of your neck, shoulders, and pecs to shorten and stiffen. This can result in rounded shoulders that can cause pain/discomfort in the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back. It can also cause headaches and even pain/numbness in the arms and hands if severe enough.
To improve, focus on stretches that lengthen the front of the neck and shoulders. Think about stretches that move the chin away from the chest, and stretches that rotate the neck. Rolling out your upper shoulders and pecs is also a critical step in improving shoulder function
Shoulder Stability Drills
Along with stretching the front of the neck and shoulders, strengthening the upper back and shoulders will also help to relieve pain. These muscles will pull the shoulders down and back and return your posture to its natural position.
With prolonged phone/screen use also comes prolonged bouts of sitting. Just like your neck and shoulders, the muscles in front of your legs (Hip Flexors) will also shorten and become tight. These will also lead to inactive glutes, tight hamstrings, and overused lower back muscles. This in turn can lead to lower back pain. In order to improve on this you must do stretches that lengthen the front of the hips and exercise that engage and strengthen the glutes and core.
The forearms and thumbs can often get overworked from continuously texting and holding the phone. This will cause the muscles in the forearms to get stiff. It can cause hand and elbow pain, and it may cause tendonitis and arthritis if severe enough. During the day, take time to stretch your fingers and flex/stretch the wrist. Rolling out and stretching your forearms will also go a long way in reducing any irritation
If you need help to figure out how to incorporate this into your routine sign up for our Injury Prevention Workshop on Saturday, August 6th from 11:30am-1pm.
Looking for 1-on-1 attention? Schedule a PT session with me, just email [email protected] to start working on your specific goals.