As our reliance on smartphones and tablets continues to rise, recent studies have highlighted a growing problem amongst our modern generation known as 'text neck'.
With the human head weighing just under a stone, it is important to remember that the angle at which we hold our heads causes the weight to increase and creates a strain on our spine. At a 60 degree angle the weight on your spine can reach around 60 lbs, making it much harder to support and causing pain and stiffness to radiate from the neck and shoulders, right down the body. Long term conditions from this strain range from headaches to arthritis, and even a permanent change to your posture and the natural curve of your spine.
It is vital that Brits start putting technology to one side and improve their posture by getting back into the great outdoors and relieving the pressure on their bodies. Leading Nordic Walking UK expert Gill Stewart shares her top tips on how even the gentlest of exercise can help:
Shake it out
Getting your arms moving during exercise is hugely beneficial for our neck and shoulders. Nordic walking in particular encourages a natural swing of the arms as part of the unique poles technique, which helps to relax the neck muscles and encourage the shoulders to drop. This helps to decrease tension caused by the dreaded "text neck".
Activate your core
It is important to strengthen the muscles in your abdominal and lower back, in order to help support your spine and reduce the chances of a permanent change to your posture. It is these muscles which help you to extend, flex and stabilise your spine. Slow controlled movements and exercises will help to reinforce your core, and it is important to remember to control your breathing and pull in your muscles as you move.
Focus on the visuals ahead of you
Often improving your posture can be as simple as taking in your surroundings. Whether in the great outdoors or in the gym, keep your head high and avoid looking downwards, however tempting it may be to check where your feet are! Not only will this relieve tension in the neck, shoulders and spine, it will also help to improve your balance and stability.
Feel the rhythm
Rhythmic movements which engage muscles throughout the body are one of the simplest ways to help boost posture alignment. By strengthening tendons and improving your muscles elastic recoil, everyday activities such as working at a desk and checking your phone will not impact your posture as greatly on a regular basis.
Gill Stewart is the author of, 'The Complete Guide to Nordic Walking', containing information on walking well plus workout ideas (Bloomsbury press). Gill and her team have trained over 3,000 qualified NWUK Instructors in the UK who can help you walk your way to fitness and offer regular group sessions - find your local one at www.nordicwalking.co.uk
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