Text Neck: What Is It?
Text neck is a term that is used to describe the neck pain and damage that is sustained from constantly looking down at a cell phone or tablet too frequently for too long. As you are constantly in a head hung forward posture, this causes overuse and repetitive stress on certain muscles of the neck and upper back. This becomes very concerning, as mobile technology is becoming more and more widespread. Because people are spending an increasing amount of time on their handheld devices like smartphones, e-readers and computer tablets, text neck is quickly becoming a growing health concern and can potentially affect millions worldwide!
So how common is text neck? A recent study indicated that almost 80% of the population between the ages of 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them all of the time.! That is, with only 2 hours of their time awake during the day without their cell phone on hand… So no wonder text neck is becoming the next new epidemic!
Why Do We Care?
When people use their mobile devices, they are stuck in an unnatural posture of looking down for a prolonged period of time. This can lead to tightness across the shoulders as well soreness in the neck and even chronic headaches. Now this awkward posture can be seen in different scenarios other than when using mobile devices like reading a book etc. but what makes mobile devices worse is that our generation is becoming addicted to them. It is just one more added activity that is greatly contributing to the problem!
So why does this posture lead to such detrimental side effects? Well, this is because the more you crane your neck, the more weight your neck has to carry! Take for example the image to the right… by the time you crane your neck forward 45 degrees, it is forced to support approximately 49 lbs. compared the average 12 lbs. that your head actually weighs!! This tells us that for every 15 degrees your head sits forward, you add the weight of another head onto your neck and spine. No wonder there is so much pain associated with text neck!
Symptoms of Text Neck
- Chronic upper back pain or muscle spasms
- Shoulder pain and tightness
- In the case of a pinched cervical nerve, neurological symptoms can radiate down the arm and into the hand
What Can You Do at Home?
- Make sure to take frequent breaks! Since text neck is a repetitive stress injury, it can be easily prevented by taking breaks from your mobile device. Make sure to take breaks from this posture every 15 minutes by looking up with the neck in a neutral position.
- Try to hold your mobile device up higher so that it is at eye level. This will ensure that your neck stays neutral and will therefore reduce or even eliminate the extra stress on the spine.
- Take part in posture oriented activates such as yoga or Pilates which encourage proper alignment of the body and spine.
- Simply pay attention to how much you are using your mobile devices!
Try rolling your shoulders back, while performing a “chin tuck”. When doing a chin tuck correctly, you will feel like you are giving yourself a double chin! This will help to re-set your posture and help to protect you against the repetitive strain experienced as we use our mobile devices!
See Image Below!