[Tripping On…] Turtlenecks and Headaches

There was a news article about recent events showing someone’s neck at an unnatural “turtleneck” angle. All I could think was, wow, that guy’s in for real spine and headache problems soon. In our quest to adopt the coolest technologies as soon as possible, we’ve forgotten our sense of moderation. Some things that seem harmless on the surface are actually quite dangerous, including the angle you hold your neck while reading books or using smartphones.

I still catch myself tilting my head too far down.

Especially in the morning when I’m waking up or distracted, it’s easier for me to tilt my head down so my neck is at a 45-degree angle or more than to hold my arms up so I could read, honestly, my smartphone. I do the same thing when I read, but my reading chair encourages me to keep better back posture than when I’m sitting up in bed, trying to wake up, so I’m looking through emails or anything to help me wake up.

The idea here is that the turtleneck extends the spine out unnaturally.

My headaches were resolved after going to physical therapy sessions to fix my neck’s poor posture. Not all headaches are caused by this, and not all poor neck posture causes headaches, and I’m not a doctor of medicine, headaches, or anything more than just a writer, so what I mean to say is that it’s just good to be careful. It’s also worthwhile knowing what has helped others, so if you notice this in yourself, you can change it early, before you’re forced to learn how to change it daily.

Small habits are easier to apply than bigger habits.

The “turtleneck” concept or “text neck” is a catchy name for poor posture that puts a strain on the neck and head muscles. Working on stretching the neck muscles and putting my head back into a more upright posture was effective for me, along with doing a float tank session to relax my neck and back muscles with body temperature water with Epsom salts, and fixing my poor desk ergonomics. This worked more so than taking medications, though anti-inflammatories helped to reduce the transition from poor posture to good posture.

The exercise I found most effective was the chin tuck.

By focusing on moving my chin inward slightly, that helps to straighten my spine, since rather than having a forward-leaning curve, I’m standing or sitting more upright. I’ll notice, too, that when I walk I must lean forward, since when I catch myself in the reflective glass, say, on my way into physical therapy or walking to work, I’ll notice that forward hunch and by the next pane of glass, I’ll have fixed my posture and walk more upright.

It’s still taking time and I’m not perfect at this.

The sort of gradual recession that caused my poor posture over the years won’t get fixed immediately. I’ll have to continually work on my posture. I prefer that over the alternative of spinal surgery or anything more invasive. If I can fix something on my own, then that’s far better than having someone else fix that for me, since then I will quickly return to my old, bad habits, rather than adopt better habits.

Even right now, I have to remember not to lean forward.

Before I start writing my second novel, I will need to fix three main things about my ergonomics at home. First, I want to build a standing desk so I can write while standing for one-hour stretches or until my standing posture starts to tire. Second, I want to figure out better chair arrangements. I am sitting in a wingback chair writing this essay, with a pillow behind my back, but is this the best chair for my ergonomics? Is it good enough to be acceptable? Third, I want to get another desk where I can sit closer to my laptop, so I’m not subconsciously trying to hunch forward.

These three changes should help with my computer-using posture.

For my smartphone-using or book-reading posture, much of that involves remembering “myself” more, which is to say, remembering to sit in a position that’s comfortable but also better on my lower back, upper back, shoulders, neck, and head. Learning better posture only took months of near-daily mindbender headache suffering, which is why I’ve been so open and forthright with what’s been ailing me to possibly help others. Sure, part of it is that I write constantly, so if I didn’t write through these events, what would I write about?

But my biggest reason for sharing this has been helping others.

The whole reason I got into writing in the first place was the idea that I could be helping out a few people each day in technical support, or, through writing essays, short stories, or novels that might not be read for years after I publish them, those writings could residually help hundreds of other people. I enjoy the craft of writing, even when it takes me a while to get going or meander through inconsequentialities, it’s still fun for me to write, and I feel far better after writing than if I had skipped the writing.

Unlike rowing, where if I skip it, I feel about the same, if I skip writing, I feel terrible.

This writing habit of mine is deeper ingrained in me than rowing, which is where I want my posture to be soon. When I can, I try to stretch my neck so I keep the muscles in good shape. It’s like when I’m idle, I try to think of writing ideas, or if I have longer stretches of idle time, I try to get in my writing. If I’m done with writing, then I think about what else I need to do in life. Taking care to fix my posture, preventing myself from regressing back into a turtleneck posture, is becoming a physical habit of mine.

What posture habits can you fix?

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences, mainly.
Inspirations: “Turtleneck” was a phrase told to me by my friend Kwang as a Korean phrase for the neck posture that smartphone users will adopt, so I just jammed on that idea.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: If I had more inclination, I might have redrawn the news article’s photo, but if that picture goes offline, oh well.
Written On: 2020 March 10 [7:32pm to 8:16pm while listening to Крв и семе.]
Last Edited: 2020 March 10 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.