“Text Neck” – Effects, Symptoms and Prevention Strategies

As technological advancements in hand held devices make them more and more useful, we are spending an increasing amount of time with our eyes glued to them. This constant action of looking down puts strain on our necks and spine and could be the reason behind your headaches, neck pain and upper back aches!

Of course, craning our neck downwards is not just due to texting – we spend time reading and writing. Texting and cell phone use in general, however, is now an extra one that causes us to look downward considerably more often than we would’ve without them. Think about how often you look at your phone – sending messages, checking social media, even just choosing a song to play. We are now forcing our necks to hold our heads at an unnatural position for several hours more per day than we are built for!

“Text neck” commonly causes neck pain, upper back pain (ranging from a dull, nagging pain to sharp, severe muscle spasms), shoulder pain and muscle tightness, and even recurring headaches. This is due to the poor posture adopted to look downwards creating added strain on muscles around the neck and spine to support the head, as well as feeling the result of increased effects of gravity (your head will feel much heavier to your neck than it is made to support!).  With prolonged use of poor posture and craning of the neck forward, this can result in overstretching of the muscles behind the neck and shortening of the muscles in the front of the neck.

There are a few things that can be tried to help prevent text neck. Posture control is the best fix and can be achieved through making some adjustments, including:

  • Holding your phone at eye level as much as possible – if this can’t be achieved, at the very least try to look at your screen through shifting just your eyes, rather than your whole neck
  • Practice breaking the habit of using your phone so often – it is likely most of us do not need to look at our phones as much as we do, but it is just habit to check it. Try timing small periods of time when you don’t look at your phone. Try this for a week and the next week increase the time slightly – practice this each day, gradually increasing the time you aren’t looking downwards at a device each week
  • If you work at a desk, ensure your computer screen is situated at eye level

There are some other small changes you can make to prevent straining your neck and spine. When taking breaks from your device, preferably every 20-30 minutes, try to walk around and stretch to relieve muscles. Strong core muscles are key to supporting your upper body, and unfortunately they do not receive ample strengthening through day to day activities. To support the head properly you also need to have strong, flexible neck muscles. Work specific core strengthening exercises into your routine as well as specific neck strengthening and stretching exercises.

For more tips and tricks in preventing text neck and hunched posture, click the following link to watch an informative and helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fOjzCJ5nIE.

If you are having problems with muscle pain and discomfort, our practitioners at Body Mind Central on Norton street in Leichhardt have chiropractors, massage therapists and occupational therapists available to help relieve you of your symptoms as well as help in strengthening the right muscles to assist in preventing further problems. Call us on 9518 0096 to book your appointment today, or book online now!

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