The increase in use of smartphones has led to more Indians being connected than ever before. According to a survey, Indians spend one third of their waking hours looking at their phone screens. This puts stress on the cervical spine, causing neck pain.
A 15-degree tilt can put pressure of 25 pounds on the spine. The pose is quite unnatural, and the long-term accumulation of force places irregular stress on the spine and the surrounding tissues. Here are a few postural adjustments you can make:
- Look ahead: Raise the phone to eye level. This will minimise the neck bend and ensure that your spine is erect. If you are not comfortable raising the device every time you use it, then train yourself to scan your eyes down instead of bending your neck.
- Check your posture: Maintain the curvature of the spine when you are using the device seated. If you have to use the device for an extended time period, get yourself a chair with back support and make sure your arms are rested on a flat surface.
- Take a break: If you have to use your device for hours, take small breaks to stretch out your back and neck. Limit the use of your device to 15-minute sessions. If your job involves frequent texting, make a phone call instead.
- Try stretching: Sit upright and push your chin all the way back. Hold this for a couple of seconds and repeat it a few times. Use the lumbar roll of a straight chair and support the curvature of your lower back. Align your shoulders with your ears. Shoulder retraction exercises are also great for aligning your neck with spine.
Asanas for neck pain
- Purvottanasana: This pose not only stretches out the chest muscles, it also stabilises the shoulder blades. Sit upright with your legs stretched out ahead of you. Turn the shoulder blades outwards and press the palms of your hands to the ground next to your hips. Gradually lift your hips and straighten out your legs till you are completely taut. Move your head back, and hold this position for five deep breaths, and release.
- Gomukhasana: This pose opens up your upper arms and stretches the muscles in your shoulders and chest. Sit straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend the right leg and keep it under the left leg. Keep the left leg above the right leg so that the left heel touches the right hip. Move the left arm over the left shoulder. Place the right arm behind the back. Clasp the fingers. Keep the spine and head straight. Breathe normally. Repeat the practice by changing the position of the legs and hands.
- Marjariasana: This pose loosens up the spine and makes it flexible. Stand on the knee and keep them little apart. Bend forward and place the palms below the shoulder and in front of the knee on the floor. While inhaling slowly lift your head, chest and sitting bones up and push lower back down. Stay in the position for ten seconds. While you exhale, bend the head down and bring the chin to your chest, and bring your back up as much as possible and relax the buttocks. Repeat a few times (The writer is the chief yoga officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru)