I’ve resisted getting into the texting habit for years. It’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate the convenience. It’s that I don’t want to have yet another device I have to check many times a day.
I also don’t want to get into unhealthy postural habits that often accompany texting. A while back I wrote an article about “text neck,” a relatively new postural malady that affects texters from their teenage years onward. Here’s a quote from the article:
“When your spine is in a neutral position with your head resting atop your neck, your head weighs 10-12 pounds. Our spines are designed to bear this weight, no problem. For every 10 degrees you flex your neck forward, your head exerts more weight on your neck. At a 60-degree angle, the most extreme angle pictured in the above graphic, your head exerts 60 pounds of force on the cervical spine. The effect of the constant weight on the delicate cervical vertebrae can, over time, reverse the curve or your cervical spine, causing pain and disc dysfunction.”
Because the neck and shoulders are intimately connected, that 60 pounds of force on your neck affects your shoulders too. Rounding your shoulders just seems to go with the territory.
The good news is that with awareness, we can prevent some of the problems associated with the head-forward, shoulder-slumping positions. When I use my smartphone I make a point to lift it high enough that I can look straight ahead. This may look a little dorky, but it gives my neck and shoulders more movement choices. Of course, it’s not sustainable in the long run because my arms get tired. But since I don’t text all that much, it works for me.
Most people text a whole lot more than I do. If you text a lot, holding your phone up while you text isn’t practical. But all is not lost. There’s always yoga! There are many yoga poses that support healthy head and shoulder positions. In the following list, include lateral extensions and twists because these are the ways the thoracic spine moves easily. Starting with these poses can mobilize your spine for back bending. Here are just a few yoga poses for sore shoulders:
Yoga Poses for Sore Shoulders
- Talasana (Palm Tree Pose): A standing lateral bend, Talasana is a great all-over stretch. You can either clasp hands or use a yoga strap to connect your hands. Start by stretching laterally, and then feel free to explore other spinal movements such as twisting and backbending while your arms are overhead.
- Garudasana Arms (Eagle Arms): Garudasana is traditionally practiced as a balance pose. But practicing the arm position on its own can help relieve stress between the shoulder blades. It may seem counterproductive to practice a pose that causes the shoulders to round. But a focused practice of Garudasana arms can help unwind the tension that can accumulate as the muscles around the shoulder blades work to keep your head stable while texting. Try practicing Garudasana arms while in Tadasana rather than in the balance pose, so that you can focus on the shoulders without worrying about losing balance. With your arms in position, breathe deeply into the space between your shoulder blades. Also, try making big, slow circles with your arms to mobilize your shoulders.
- Parvrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved High Lunge Pose): You may notice I’ve so far recommended standing poses in this post. Texting, and working on a computer, is mostly done sitting. It doesn’t hurt to enliven the whole body while you focus in on your shoulders. I like this particular twist a lot because it offers lots of movement options.
- Instant Maui: Finally, a supine pose! Instant Maui is a pose I learned from Judith Hanson Lasater in one of her Restorative Yoga teacher trainings. It’s a variation of Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall) that I’ve found is easier to sustain for a longer time. Instant Maui creates a gentle backbend that you can sustain for a long period of time, because your body is supported by a yoga bolster and yoga blanket.
- Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose): Another Restorative pose, Supported Fish Pose is one of yoga’s most effective poses for expanding the chest. You can use two yoga blocks or a yoga bolster for support. Junior bolsters or pranayama bolsters work especially well for this. Their narrow width promotes chest expansion. Make sure you have plenty of blankets on hand. If your head tilts back in this pose, it can be very uncomfortable, and can actually create more neck and shoulder tension. Make sure you place enough support under your head so that your head is not tilting back.
Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a good, long Savasana. Try for 10-15 minutes.