Sitting at desks all day was already ruining our bodies—and then we became attached to our smartphones, too. Now experts say we have to worry about "text neck," a plethora of problems that result from being hunched over your phone all day. “Your neck is forward, your shoulders are slouching, there's more rounding of the upper back, and you're closing up your body,” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., owner and founder of TS Fitness, a strength and conditioning studio in New York City.
Not only does that give you the posture of Quasimodo, it can also lead to neck pain, wrist mobility issues, and muscular imbalances. And if you jump into a workout in that hunched-over position, you could be asking for an injury.
“If you bust out bench presses, you're tightening pecs that are already tight,” Tamir says. Plus, if your shoulders are rounded forward, it can make it harder to press overhead, and if you force it, that can lead to bone spurs, tendinitis, or torn tendons. In addition to the risk of injury, all these tight muscles can inhibit your strength gains. “Adequate range of motion around the joints is imperative to perform loaded movement patterns safely and effectively,” says Jessica Matthews, master trainer for the American Council on Exercise and author of Stretching to Stay Young.
And if you try to bang out reps anyway, other muscles may step up to compensate for tighter, weaker ones, causing you to build muscle where you don't want it. “You might build up your traps and get big muscles in your shoulder, rather than targeting your rhomboids and other muscles in your back,” Tamir says.
Taking a few minutes at the gym and throughout your day can make a big difference in helping you feel better, avoid injuries, and hit your fitness goals.