Have you ever stopped to wonder how many miles you’ve scrolled with your thumbs? How many letters have you texted, apps have you opened and notifications have you swiped? How was your posture while your thumbs were putting in all that work?

Text/Tech Neck staring down at your phone or tablet for long periods of time, often while typing, texting or talking, that puts great tension on your neck and spine. If this sounds familiar, you probably also have hunched or rounded shoulders, tight chest muscles and complaints of tension and aches in your hands, wrists and forearms.

Below I’ve outlined a series of gentle stretches to ease the tension in the areas mentioned above + full descriptions of how to make each stretch work for you. These are some of my personal favorite stretches and they are gentle enough for you to do them every day.

Suggestions for gentle and effective stretching – 

  • Never stretch to the point of pain -You’ll feel some sensations that might be uncomfortable, but you should not be in pain. Our muscles respond to as little as 12% pressure (100% being the highest) so the “no pain no gain” mindset is completely false and often counterproductive for stretching.
  • Try each stretch for 30 seconds – You can complete several rounds of each, depending on what your body needs that day.
  • Breathe – Stay connected to your breath. Pull back or add some movement to the stretch if you’re straining or having difficulty breathing deeply. The more you breathe, the more you allow your body to relax into the stretch.
  • Movement -If your muscles are really tight, you might find more comfort moving through the stretch. Try gentle half neck circles, move back and forth for any of the wrist stretches or sweep your arms up overhead in transition on the seated spinal twists.
  • Patience – One stretch session will give you some relief but it’s not a cure-all. For best results over time, make time to stretch and move a little every single day.
  • “Feelings aren’t facts.” – This is one of the truest statements I’ve heard about anatomy and it has greatly informed how I approach stretching. Basically, spend some time stretching the areas around your problem areas. Stretch your neck muscles to relieve tightness in your jaw, massage your forearms to ease tension in your hands and stretch your glutes to ease low back pain.

Chest opener {shoulders, chest} – A simple and restorative stretch to release tension in your chest and shoulders. I’m using a Yoga bolster, but this posture and all its benefits can be achieved using pillows. Stack pillows or sturdy couch cushions under your shoulder blades right above your ribs and lie back, palms up, to open your chest and shoulders.

This posture is restorative because you don’t have to do anything once you lie back. Allow gravity to gently expand your chest muscles as you breathe deeply, sinking into the pillow or bolster.

Options for your legs –

  • Soles of the feet together and optional pillows under your knees
  • Constructive rest – To protect your low back, you can bend your knees, open your feet and bring your knees together.
  • Legs straight and feet open

 

Child’s pose {low back, hips, knees} – Option again to lie over a pillow, place a pillow under your butt or do both. Find what feels best and allows you to relax into this posture. Your knees are wide, big toes touching, as you lie forward bringing your chest toward the mat.

Options for your arms –

  • Bring the knees a little closer and drape your arms alongside your hips to give the shoulders a break
  • Straighten your arms out in front of you to stretch the shoulders
  • Additional shoulder, triceps and chest stretch – Place your elbows on blocks or a stack of books and bring your hands together, fingers spread wide. As you sit your butt back to your heels in child’s pose, draw your thumbs to your upper back and rest there.

Standing forward folds {low back, hamstrings, spine, neck} – Start by standing with your feet hip distance (2 fists distance) apart. Hinge forward at your hips and fold forward, placing your hands on something (a block, stack of books, etc.) or grabbing onto opposite elbows. Point the top of your head to the floor to release your neck. Notice the deep bend in my knees? That’s the secret to touching your toes! Bend as deep in your knees as you need to release your low back, hamstrings and neck.

“Bulldog” Forearm stretch – This can be pretty intense so adjust your positioning as needed. From tabletop position, make a fist with both hands and place the back of your hands on the mat. Bend your elbows 30-40 degrees and try to straighten your arms while keeping the fist. When you can’t hold the fist any longer, open your hands and try to straighten your arms even more.

When bending your elbows, make sure that only the backs of your hands and not your forearms are on the mat. This will deepen the stretch in the forearms. Shake your wrists and hands between sets and remember to breathe!

Wrist, arm and forearm stretches – These can all be done seated or standing. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed away from your ears for each stretch so you won’t create more tension in your neck.

Shoulder openers – These can be done seated or standing. In the first image, my right arm is wrapped under my left with my palms touching in the center. In the second image, I’m hugging my shoulder blades – both postures help open the shoulders/shoulder blades and release tension in the upper back muscles. In Yoga they’re called “eagle arms.”

Spinal twists – Seated twist from the waist. Try to look over your shoulder for a gentle neck stretch. Your eyes are a muscle and they love a break from staring ahead at screens all day.

Lying supine twist with optional Yoga or pillow between the knees. Try scooting your hips over to make room for your legs if you have difficulty lowering your legs and keeping your upper back on the mat.

Seated side bends {side body, ribs} – Find a comfortable seated position that allows you to sit up tall as if someone is pulling you up by the crown of your head. You can sit on a block, meditation cushion or pillow to create some space in the hips and make sitting a little easier. Crossing your legs is optional. This can also be done standing up with your feet apart. Find what feels best for you and remember to breath, finding ease for a gentle stretch along the side of your body. Whether standing or sitting, try keeping your shoulders back and your chest open.

 

Gentle neck stretches – These can also be done seated or standing. I like extending my arm for a deeper stretch but you might find that bringing your ear to your shoulder is enough. Try both ways and remember to keep your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.

Breathe. Stretch. Release. 

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