Smartphones. Everywhere you look people are staring at their phones hunched over with their necks bent in an altogether unnatural way. It’s not good for you! An average human head weighs around 12 pounds. But, when crane your neck to look at your phone, the weight on your spine increases. Depending on how much of an angle you bend your neck to, your head can become up to five times heavier!

The main issue is that it’s only going to get worse. Smartphones aren’t a fad and will not be going away anytime soon. Users are spending average of two to four hours per day texting, sending emails or on social media. That’s up to 1400 hours a year spent glued to a small screen, putting more pressure and stress on your neck and spine. It’s clearly an epidemic! The issue is not going to go away, so we have to find a way of treating and helping it before it’s too late. And Pilates may just be the answer…

When done correctly, Pilates exercises strengthen core muscles for support, which over time will help to ease and reduce neck tension. However, it’s very important to understand and learn before throwing yourself into anything. Without instruction, people who are new to Pilates can aggravate a neck problem by not understanding or not having the strength and flexibility needed to support the body well and keep the stress out of the neck. There are a multitude of exercises available that can aid neck pain. The challenge is finding the right exercises for you and your body to start with.

In addition to the choice of exercise, good breathing habits are essential to open the joint space in the neck and help lengthen the neck muscles to reduce neck strain and improve posture. Your head is basically a medicine ball sitting on a straw. If the ball is not properly balanced on the straw, the straw will lean or bend and the head will tip to strange angles in an attempt to stay perched at the top of your body. This causes muscles to work too hard
and causes others to become lame. Over time, your body accepts this way of holding your head and neck as correct and the pattern of muscle use becomes a habit.

By taking part in Pilates and putting just a smidge of effort, you can learn to effectively reduce neck tension and neck strain by paying attention to where you are holding tension and practicing better breathing habits during your Pilates exercises.

Pilates – the cure for ‘Text Neck’.

Written for ZH Pilates by Sam Dennis.