Texting is a Literal Pain in the Neck: Posture Check-List for Using Your Devices

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If we thought that we were developing back, neck and shoulder pain sitting at a desk in front of a computer, we now don't even get a rest from our technology-induced postures when we are on the go. The good news is that using a device does not have to be synonymous with strain.

A recent study shows that texting is damaging to the spine.  To help avoid placing “long-term strain on your neck, a New York doctor recommends The Alexander Technique.  Scientifically proven to reduce back pain by 85%, it gives people the know-how to use their smartphones smartly and understand how not to strain.  

As an AmSAT-Certified Alexander Technique instructor, I help people to do everyday things with less strain.  Here are a few tips that you can put to use right now to start being nicer to your neck when you are using your portable devices:

1. Move down, don't drop down - Typing on a smartphone or tablet usually involves holding it far from your eyes and looking down at it. What causes strain is when you collapse down toward the thing that you are looking at. Resist the urge to push your chin forward and sink down into your chest. Instead of collapsing down, move down. Start by looking at your device by first only moving your eyes, then let your head tilt by moving your brow first, not your chin.

2. Lift your device higher - This may seem obvious, but it is commonly ignored. Move your device closer to your face with your hands so that you don't have to move down as far to see it. Make sure that you don't lift your shoulders or pull your shoulder blades together as you lift.

3. Less "work" doesn't mean less strain - Touch screens and the soft keyboards on laptops hardly require any effort to use . . . hardly any effort for the finger that is touching them, that is. The low impact-typing that is required can actually be more of a strain than a relief. The keys on ergonomic keyboards are designed like the old-school keyboards from the 80s and 90s. You actually have to exert some effort to press the keys down and that effort demands that your arms, back, and even your legs be engaged in a very positive way. When softer pressing is required, it begs very little support from the rest of the body.

Now you can start texting your way to better posture!