What are the chances you’re reading this from your phone right now? This position, referred to as “text neck,” is a real epidemic.

In fact, people spend approximately 5 hours a day on their phones. Prolonged screen time leads to serious problems with your neck, back and shoulders—also called text neck. Researchers at Harvard Medical Health have predicted that 7 out of 10 people will experience neck aches due to text neck at some point in their lives.

Here’s exactly what text neck does to your body: it tightens the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the front of your neck and lengthens the muscles, tendons and ligaments behind your neck. The human head weighs 10 pounds—for every inch your head is tilted forward, the weight your neck carries doubles. Over time, that adds up.

However, fully ditching our devices isn’t really an option. So instead, these exercises and habits will help prevent neck aches and pains associated with text neck.

Exaggerated Nod

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The exaggerated nod counterbalances the harmful downward/forward head position by pulling your shoulders down and back, increasing neck mobility.

How to do it:

  1. Start by sitting or standing comfortably with your shoulders relaxed. With your mouth closed—teeth touching but not clenching—look up to the ceiling.
  2. Pause and let your jaw relax and open your mouth. See if you can bring your head further back an inch or two (typically you can).
  3. Keep your head still and bring your lower jaw to your upper jaw, closing your mouth. You should feel a stretch in the front of your neck.

Downward-Facing Dog

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Downward-Facing Dog is useful for stretching the anterior chest wall and shoulders, which are often tense and tightened up from excessive screen time. This pose is all about upper-body strength—if you find yourself raising your shoulders up to your ears, pull your shoulder blades down and create space in your neck.

How to do it:

  1. Start on all fours. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, raising your hip bones toward the ceiling.
  2. Reach your heels back toward the mat, but don’t let them plank on the ground.
  3. Drop your head so your neck is long.
  4. To alleviate any pressure on your wrists, press into the knuckles of your forefingers and thumbs.
  5. Breathe for at least three deep breaths. Then release.

Cat-Cow

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On all fours, inhale so you create an anterior tilt to the pelvis, your tailbone facing the ceiling. As you exhale, create a posterior tilt so your tailbone is turned toward the ground. This movement sequence helps increase spinal awareness.

How to do it:

  1. Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists, your hips over your knees, and the tops of your feet pressed into the ground. Look down a few inches in front of your fingers and lengthen from your head down to your tailbone.
  2. To begin the cat phase, use your abs to curl your spine toward the ceiling while tucking your tailbone in (like a Halloween cat) as you exhale. Lengthen your neck and allow your chin to reach down and in, toward your chest.
  3. To begin the cow phase, drop your belly down to the floor as you inhale. Draw your shoulders away from your ears, and lift your chin and chest to look up toward the ceiling.
  4. Cycle through both cat and cow a few times, keeping stress and pressure out of your head and neck.

Padahastasana

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Padahastasana stretches the neck and hamstrings, which means it’s fighting both text neck and tight hips from sitting all day,

How to do it:

  1. Take off your shoes and begin with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, bend forward and let your arms touch the floor. If it’s difficult, take your arms only as far as they can go without straining.
  2. Bend your knees and lift the balls of your feet off the ground to slip your hands—palms face-up—underneath your feet.
  3. Allow your toes to come right into your wrist creases. Press into your palm with the balls of your feet and relax your head. Breathe at least three deep breaths.

Bow pose

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Bow pose helps combat slouched shoulders by opening them up from the front and strengthening them from the back.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your chin on the floor and your hands resting on either side.
  2. Bend your knees, bringing your heels as close to your buttocks as you can. Reach back with both hands and grab onto your outer ankles. As you inhale, lift your heels up toward the ceiling so your chest, thighs and upper torso lift off the mat.
  3. To intensify the stretch, try to lift your heels higher while keeping your tailbone pressed on the mat. Look forward and pull your shoulders away from your ears.
  4. Hold this position for 10 breaths. Release while exhaling by slowly lowering your thighs—and the rest of your body—to the ground.

Chin tuck

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Chin tuck is a simple exercise you can do anywhere—your desk, a stoplight or even a work meeting. This simple stretch helps increase spinal awareness while strengthening the neck muscles to help pull your head back into alignment.

How to do it:

  1. Sit up tall in a chair, keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Without tilting your head in any direction, gently draw your head and chin back (like you’re making a double chin). You should feel a stretch along the back of your neck.
  2. Now imagine there’s a string pulling your head upward like a puppet, and actively elongate your neck. Push the base of your skull away from the base of your neck. Keep your jaw relaxed and hold this position for 3 deep breaths.
  3. Release your chin forward. Repeat.

Prevent Text Neck With a Chiropractor

If you’re experiencing prolonged pain or discomfort, see a professional chiropractor. Progressive Integrated Healthcare is a medical chiropractor in Dallas with many years of experience treating neck, shoulder and back pain associated with text neck. To see how we can help relieve your pain, contact our office today.