Technology continues to expand and play an integral role in our lives. We use our phones for more than calling a friend – they’re our way of life: social media, texting, playing games and more. Without our phones or tablets we are lost!
Ever wonder how much time you spend on your smartphone or with technology. It’s reported that, on average, an American adult spends two hours and 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. That does not include time in front of a computer screen or tablet. Now, picture yourself holding a ten-pound (the approximate weight of an adult head) dumbbell for nearly three hours a day. That would get heavy pretty quickly! Keep that analogy in mind, as we discuss “text neck”: what it is, how it can affect you, and how we can terminate it.
We’ve established that we spend hours on our phones, and that our head weighs roughly ten pounds. How does this affect us? As we use our phones or tablets, posture is not in the forefront of our minds, though it should be. Typically, the screen is positioned down near our waist and our head is looking down, causing a forward bend in the neck. The further your head leans forward, the heavier it weighs on your neck due to the lever action. Going back to the dumbbell analogy, the further you move your arm away from your body (like a dumbbell curl), the heavier the weight feels; this is similar to your head and neck as you lean forward. This load can create a strain on the neck muscles, joints and ligaments.
Text neck is a general term that describes neck pain caused by technology use and poor posture. This condition is becoming more and more prevalent in doctors’ offices. It may seem like something to brush off; but if prolonged, it can create serious issues such as muscle strains, pinched nerves, disc injuries, and headaches. The pain and symptoms can occur in the neck, but also the upper back and shoulders. Pain is the body’s way of giving us a warning that something is wrong, like a car’s check engine light. If you feel pain in your neck while using your phone, your body is alerting you that there is a problem.
The issue that brings you to the doctor’s office is the pain, but the true problem is the “humpbacked” (forward head carriage) posture. Let’s tackle the problem with tips for avoiding it, and thus alleviating the pain. Simply keeping your ears in line with your shoulders will promote a neutral position for the spine. Also, when using devices, keep them at eye level in front of the face, or only look down with your eyes. Lastly, take breaks if prolonged usage is necessary, or reduce the total usage of devices. These tips will help reduce the risk of symptoms and issues involving text neck; but if you are experiencing pain, seek medical attention whether a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, or your primary care physician. Often, postural correction, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, soft tissue work, and/or stretches and exercises can reduce and prevent the pain. Text neck and symptoms associated with it are treatable – but most importantly, they are preventable.
With the increasing necessity of technology in our lives, text neck prevalence is likely to increase. Don’t let that ten-pound head become overwhelmed by this! Just use the basic tips to avoid this malady. However, if you’re in pain, there are outlets for natural treatment. Use this knowledge of text neck to terminate it!
Text neck is a general term that describes neck pain caused by technology use and poor posture.