Yes, your neck is designed to look down - it's a normal human function - but problems arise when you look down for long periods of time without doing something to counter the cervical flexion. Young children (under 3 or 4 years old) naturally do this: they might be looking down for 5 minutes building legos or playing with some other small toy and then sensing that their body needs to change position, will jump up and run around, swing from their arms, reach for the sky and look up, anything that breaks the pattern of cervical flexion. It is a natural instinctual reaction that children have to vary their positions, movements, and focus. Most children as they grow older lose this natural and healthy instinctual sense, partially because adults introduce them to objects and activities that teach prolonged sitting and looking down including:
- school - prolonged sitting still and looking down at a book, paper, or activity
- handheld video games - looking down at a small screen
- TV or video games - prolonged sitting still
- reading - looking down at a book for hours on end
None of these things are bad in and of themselves (I myself being a big fan of kids going to school and learning how to read and I personally love my cell phone), but when we do them for prolonged periods of time, without sufficient breaks and counter-acting activities, and when combined together they quickly break that instinctual sense to change position and move.
This by the way, is a very old problem, as seen in these images from a book published in 1849:
- First we can become aware of the problem of looking down for extended periods of time. How much time is too much without changing position? 60 minutes is definitely too long. 5 minutes might not be bad. Probably in the range of 15-20 minutes.
- Second we can tune back into the signals our body sends us. After looking down at a book or cell phone for 5 or 10 minutes start noticing what you feel: Stiffness? Tightness? Fatigue? Tiredness? Discomfort? Pain? Restlessness? These are signals your body is sending you, trying to communicate with you about the physical state of the body. It is your body telling you to change position, move, stretch, and vary the stimulus.
- Third is introducing some specific stimulus to the body that will undo the forward head posture and "text neck" symptoms. Here are several places to start and of course you can contact me for specific personalized e-cise menus for your body, posture imbalances, and symptoms.
- Simple posture exercises for office workers.
- Daily at work pain free stretching routine.
- Posture exercises for forward head posture.
Forward Head Posture
Posture exercises for headache and sinus relief
Kyphosis, sitting posture, and shoulder pain
Benefits of Good Posture