Where the head lead the body follows

Hands up, who uses a smart phone daily? Or sits at a laptop/computer? I know I do and although it isn’t great for my posture it is something that I need to do in order to work. Modern life is not good for our bodies, so the best thing we can do is to be aware and to combat our bodies compensations. Or all give up technology…. not going to happen!

One of the main issues is the position of your neck. Leaning to look down at a screen is causing the vertebrae in the neck to jam up and get stuck for space. It increases the wear and tear in the neck. It is the same when you wear a heavy rucksack, to compensate you jut your neck forward. (Note to parents, keep your children’s rucksacks light!).

Do you get headaches, have a pain at the base of your skull or tight neck/shoulders? All this can be linked.

Our head weighs 10-12lbs but when you change the angle if increases this effective weight, so a 15 degree angle changes this to 27lbs and a 60 degree angle makes it 60lbs!!!

Try placing your fingers on the very base of you neck, just above the big boney first part of your spine. How do your vertebrae in your neck feel? Jammed up or with space between them? Trying drawing your chin back so you have a double chin and then lengthening up through the crown on the head, how different is it?

When your neck is forward jutting you should feel that pressure on the back of the neck and the vertebrae are very close together. As you lengthen back to neutral spine the load and pressure is released and there is space for those vertebrae once more.

Our heads set the tone for the rest of the body (as do the feet) so if you head and neck posture are not in good alignment then it can affect the rest of the kinetic chain. The body is like one of these baby toys…. when you push one part it affects another area too. It’s all connected!

The solution? Start eavesdropping! Well at least pretend to. Assume the posture of standing tall and thinking about eavesdropping on someone behind you and it should help you draw your head and neck back into alignment.

Also try out this exercise:




Smartphones, chintucks and posture

There is no getting away from the world of smartphones and laptops these days, I’m writing this post on my laptop, with my smart phone beside me, so I’m certainly no techno-phobe. However, due to my training and the work I do, my eye is probably more tuned into posture. I can still get lulled into bad posture at the end of the day, the body is tired and there is still work to be done…. working on the sofa is an attractive option. I usually end up working on the floor. Too much pilates ruins oneself. the floor is where I am most comfortable!


So what are the issues?

Smart Phone Chin. Yes this really is a thing. We are talking about looking down at the screen of your phone as it is held in your hand. That bent neck may not feel like a problem, but over time:
the following can happen:

The facial skin can sag due to a loss in the elasticity in the muscles of the neck.
The neck muscles shorten, pulling on the jaw leading to a droopy jawline.
A crease can develop just above the collar bone from bending of the neck.
Marionette lines can appear from the corners of the mouth, down to your chin.
A double chin may occur.
Neck and shoulder pain.
Rounded shoulders cause upper back muscles to overstretch and chest muscles to tighten.

How? Well tilting your head forward means more force on the neck and shoulders. For example, a 12 lb head tilted forward by 3 inches causes almost 3 times the amount of pressure on the neck, head and upper back muscles. This means that 12lb head can feel like 48lb to your poor overworked upper body.

P.S I am pregnant in this picture, the bump is not part of the smart phone look!

Pilates with Priya: smartphone chin


6 Strategies to Help:

Obviously the best thing to do is to no longer use your smartphone. JOKING. That is not possible. In America people are having Botox and cosmetic surgery to fix things. A “ChinPlant” is becoming increasingly popular. Let’s hope that doesn’t take off in the UK.

I’ve a better idea. How about changing your posture? It’s cheaper, will help with neck and shoulder pain and is also long-lasting.

1. Bring your phone to eye level instead of tilting your head. Keep your neck long and check you are not rounding your shoulders.
2. Change positions regularly when using a laptop. Try standing, sitting at a desk, using a kneeling chair and working on the floor.
3. Use a hands free headset for calls.
4. The chin tuck exercise. Stand/Sit in a neutral posture. Long neck, ribcage dropped, shoulders down in the spine, chin level. Place 2 fingers on your chin, push gently so you tuck your chin and move your head back. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This works well sat with a cushion or head rest behind you so you can feel the head moving back into it.

Pilates with Priya:  chintuck exercise 1
5. Wall Angels. Stand 4 inches away with your back to the wall. Your bum, spine and head are against the wall. Stand in neutral posture, engage the core and bring both arms up, with your elbows still in your line of vision. Breath out and bend your elbows so your shoulder blades slide down in your back and you feel a release in the upper spine.

Pilates with Priya:  wall angels exercise 1

Pilates with Priya:  wall angels exercise 1


6. Pectoral release. Stand in front to and to the side of a door frame. Place your hand on the door frame with your arm behind you. Turn away from your arm and release in your pectorals, your chest muscles.