Next time you walk through the aisle of an airplane, take notice of how many heads are pointed down reading an e-book, fiddling with a spreadsheet, watching a movie, or playing angry birds. What they each have in common is their head position & posture – looking down.
Airplane aisles are tight and most of our tools for distraction demand an unnatural position. Undoubtedly, the same focused engagement that helps pass the time also distracts from the dull ache building in the base of the head and neck. That ache may reflect an accumulation of injury when ignored because of distractions.
Our heads weigh on average 10-11 lbs and it is tediously balanced on a narrow column of bone by ligaments and muscles. Imagine balancing a small bowling ball atop a broom stick. Now try it while leaning the broomstick forward and tilting the ball down. It’s tough on those structures and over time, they will show some signs of wear and tear. Overtime, this can accelerate arthritis and soft tissue injury, called myofascial pain. If you often deboard with at least a quick rub against some tight muscles, here are some quick tips to help keep your neck healthy:
1. Take breaks. Even when deeply engaged in that episode of MadMen, pretend commercial breaks are still there to look around and stretch.
2. Stretch. Stretches help tightening muscle fibers relax, but to get to the ones that are holding on the tightest, you must hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Anything less just feels good but will not loosen fibers at risk for injury. Try singing a nursery rhyme like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Mary Had a Little Lamb while holding each stretch.
3. Look up.Fortunately our electronic devices are getting lighter and maybe soon we will all have Google Glasses. Until then try to position your e-device in an upright position. Try balancing it against the folded tray-table.