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Ways to Improve Your Posture by Stacy Geant Hughes

Back Pain? Tight Shoulders? Do You Have Text Neck™?

How often do you find yourself slouching during the day? You’re probably doing it right now as you’re reading this on your phone or iPad- I caught you, didn’t I? And I’m also willing to bet you’re seeing the same thing with your kids! “iPosture” and “Text Neck™” are quickly becoming commonplace terms for the hunched over position people take when on their electronic devices.

In this position, you actually stretch out the ligaments and muscles of your back and neck and over time, this weakens them. “This leads to bulging discs, nerve compression, burning and tingling down the arms,” says Sparkville, Mississippi-based physical therapist Dr. Brian Kirby. Chiropractor Dean L. Fishman, from Ft Lauderdale, Florida, said he trademarked the term “Text Neck™” after noticing that 90 percent of his patients had the same neck and back pains. His youngest patient, who spends several hours a week on his iPad, is 3 years old!

So what to do about Text Neck™, back pain and bad posture? Below are some ideas you can incorporate every day to help with your own posture. And maybe you can even get your kids to do them with you!

Really Quick Fixes

  • Keep Your Eye on It: Keep the phone or device at eye level when you’re using it. Simple but effective!

  • Can You Stand It?: Pay attention to how you stand. Is your weight on one leg more than the other (like when you hold a baby on your hip)? Are you leaning forward on your toes more than your heels? Instead, stand with equal weight on both feet and make sure you feel your heels on the ground. If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel your bottom activate too!

  • Take a Break! Put down the device! Doesn’t it always come down to everything in moderation?

Fixes That Take a Little More Time (but not much!)

  • Car Seat: While you’re in your car, put your seat into an upright position and sit with your bottom back and your entire back and head against the seat. This works for passengers (like your kids) too!

  • V Sit (not the kind your kids do in PE!) Sit on the floor with your bottom ALL the way back against the wall and your legs out in a “V” in front of you. The “V” shouldn’t be much wider than your shoulders. If the hamstrings on the backs of your legs are too tight for you to sit straight up, bend your knees a bit but keep your bottom back against the wall and stay here for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at how difficult this is!

  • Standing Arms and Circles: Stand with your heels, back, shoulders and head against the wall (If you can’t get your entire back on the wall, take a step away until you can). Keep your shoulders down your back and your abs engaged (you’ll need them to keep your back on the wall). Bring one arm up and reach the other down. Keep your shoulder blades down your back and switch arms. Repeat 3x for each arm. Then do the same - making arm circles 3x in each direction.

And of Course…

Buy the App!

You knew it would come to this. There is actually a Text Neck™ app for Android that will remind you via a light, beep or vibration to keep your device at a level that will avoid straining your neck. Or if you prefer gadgets, the iPosture will attach to your body to remind you when you slouch. No word yet on whether either will remind your kids to brush their teeth or to eat their veggies!

~ Stacy Geant Hughes, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery rehabilitation, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC in Ridgewood, NJ


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