‘Text Neck’ is the new term referring to neck pain caused by looking down at mobile devices for prolonged periods. There is no denying that technology has transformed the way we live, but if you’re the type of person who’s constantly glued to your phone, be warned: Looking down at your screen can be the equivalent of putting up to 60 pounds of extra weight on your spine, according to an analysis published in the journal Surgical Technology International. Putting that into perspective, 60 pounds is roughly how much an average 8-year-old weighs. So being continuously stooped over, texting or scrolling through social media, is like constantly having a child strung around your neck. No wonder people complain of neck pain from texting!
It’s common knowledge that hunched shoulders are not good posture and a recipe for back and neck pain, but leaning your head forward may be another way to wreak havoc. In fact, the chances that you will have neck pain at some point in your lifetime is now nearly 50%!
On average we spend around 10 hours and 24 minutes engaging with our mobile devices every day. Within five minutes of waking up in the morning, 35% of us check our phones, and 70% of us use phones during mealtimes with family and friends. Sadly, this excessive reliance on digital devices is taking a toll on our bodies. Besides muscle pain, text neck can cause a host of other health concerns. Sitting in a slumped position restricts your lungs’ ability to expand, impairing your lung capacity. Inhaling less oxygen means your heart needs to pump harder to distribute more oxygen-carrying blood through your body.
Typically, incidence of neck pain increases the older you get. But recently, it seems we’re seeing and treating more patients, and younger patients, who never reported having neck pain before. Luckily, there is no need to shun all technology though. Changing a few habits can make a big difference in improving your spinal health and overall wellbeing. Here are some tips to help avoid text neck and other spinal issues resulting from overuse of mobile devices:
- Change the way you hold your phone – bring the screen up to eye level so that you’re not slouched forward. The same goes for your desktop computer. Your monitor screen should be at eye level so your head isn’t perpetually dropping and causing muscle strain.
- If your posture isn’t perfect, try doing shoulder extensions. Arch your neck and upper back backward, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears. This simple stretch can alleviate stress and muscle pain.
- Take regular breaks from mobile devices. For example, try not to check your phone while commuting.
- Get social with family or friends. Have a ‘no phone policy’ during dinner. You’ll probably enjoy your meal even more without the distraction!
Stretching can help alleviate neck pain and discomfort caused by text neck. Our osteopaths can give you professional advice about which type of stretching exercises are suitable for you. Depending on your circumstances, we may suggest a treatment plan, which will help improve the range of motion and function of your neck and upper spine. For further information please contact us.