Is your cell phone sending your body the wrong signal? We are dependent on our devices to access emails, chat with friends and watch endless videos of cats doing funny things. But with this seemingly harmless convenience comes some consequential health concerns.

The body was not designed for a digital lifestyle. Hours spent hunched over a phone places a considerable amount of stress on muscles and joints. Over time, this tension can impact and impair your strength, safety and stability. And while that may sound alarming, it likely won’t slow down or stop your smartphone-loving ways. So rather than ditch your device, practice these simple exercises that help combat the health hazards associated with cell phone use.

EYES. When scrolling, the muscles surrounding the eyes squint and strain to decipher the tiny characters on an overly illuminated screen. Eye scrunching side effects include tension headaches, blurred vision, eye fatigue and dry eyes.

Easy On The Eyes:
  • From a seated position, take a deep breath elongating your spine. Release and relax the muscles in your forehead, eyes and jaw.
  • Keeping your head in place, gently adjust your gaze up toward the ceiling, then circle your eyes in a clockwise direction. Take your time doing this. Repeat two times then rest your eye muscles by closing them.
  • When ready, roll your eyes in a counterclockwise direction this time.
Stare Into Space:
  • Remain in your seat with your shoulders back and neck relaxed.
  • Find an object in the distance and concentrate on it. Examine all the details of this item. The goal is to redirect and refocus your eye muscles from scrutinizing a close range object to one that’s far away.

NECK. When playing with your phone, your neck shifts into a craned, cranked position known as “text neck.” Each time you bring your chin down to your chest and hold it there for a long duration, an enormous amount of tension and pressure is placed on your neck. This can lead to postural issues, muscle strain and restrict your airways which limits the amount of oxygen you inhale.

Off Your Chest:
  • While seated, inhale deeply and bring your arms behind your head. Softly clasp your hands together. Tilt your chin up slightly.
  • Squeeze the muscles between your shoulders as you pull your elbows back. Feel a deep stretch in your chest, armpits, biceps and neck. Hold for 10 counts then release.
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "off your chest" exercise.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "off your chest" exercise.
Save Your Neck:
  • Start by bringing your left ear down toward your left shoulder. Hold for several counts, inhaling your way through the stretch. If your right shoulder begins to pop up, lightly hold it down with your left hand.
  • Now drop your chin down toward your chest, allowing your neck and upper part of your shoulder muscles to elongate.
  • Continue to take deep breaths as you rotate your head toward your right shoulder. If your left shoulder rises, apply pressure to it with your right hand. Hold for two counts then circle your head back so your gaze is directed up at the ceiling.
  • Repeat the sequence in the opposite direction.
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "save your neck" exercise.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "save your neck" exercise.

WRISTS. Overuse injuries are not limited to high-impact exercises like running. Constant texting and typing can also result in an overuse injury in your wrists. Since your wrists are bent and fixed in an abnormal way while operating a phone, pressure is placed on tendons, nerves and muscles leading to conditions like carpal tunnel and even wrist sprains.

With Open Arms:
  • Extend your right arm palm side up.
  • Using your left hand, gradually pull the fingers in your right hand down toward the ground. You should feel a light stretching sensation in your inner forearm.
  • Hold for 10 counts then relax your arms. Repeat on your left arm.
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "open arms" exercise.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the "open arms" exercise.
Make A Fist:
  • Gently squeeze your hands into a fist, resting your thumb on the outside.
  • Release and expand your fingers. Practice this exercise five times on each hand.

Stay strong and safe by practicing preventative exercises. Don’t put your health on the do not call list.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt, ACE-CPT, is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.