The frequent use of smartphones, tablets and laptops have become a part of everyday life. Constant use can cause serious spinal health problems if used incorrectly and unfortunately, they are almost always used incorrectly. Forward head posture, and looking down with neck bent forward, leads to the phenomenon known as ‘text neck’. With most people who already suffer from upper back and neck injuries, constant use of technology can quickly become an obstacle to recovery.
Latest studies show 63% of American Adults own a smartphone, 73% of American teens own a smartphone, and 24% of those teens go online almost constantly. Teens are shown to spend on average approximately 5000 hours on their smartphone per year, and about 1400 hours per year by adults. So what do these numbers have to do with your neck?
Incorrect use of these types of technology puts your body in a constant “humpbacked” posture with the neck bent forward and head looking down.This requires the neck to work extremely hard to adapt to the constant weight loading when flexed forward. The heavy weight of your head leaning forward creates massive amount of stress on the neck and upper back. In fact, approximately every 15 degrees of neck flexion adds an extra 10-12 lbs of stress to the spine. This continued stress on the neck is what leads to the condition ‘text neck’.
Symptoms produced by ‘text neck’ and overuse of handheld technology include the following:
– neck and shoulder pain
– chronic headaches
– shortness of breath
– numbness in the arms
– neurological issues
4 TIPS TO AVOID TEXT NECK:
- Make an effort to stay in a neutral position so that your ears are aligned with your shoulders.
- Simply hold your phone in front of your face while keeping your back straight rather than looking down at it.
- If you look down at your device do it with your eyes. No need to bend your neck.
- Avoid spending hours each day hunched over and remember to take frequent breaks.
- Move your head from left to right several times – incorporate both rotation and side bending.
- Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against them, first forward and then backward.
- Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen the muscles of good posture.
If you find yourself using these exercises for two weeks or more and have gotten little to no change in your pain or discomfort, you should seek further help from an expert. Lingering symptoms will require treatment in most cases. Adhesion is the most common result of text neck, which is a result of overuse and prolonged position.
At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion! If you, or someone you know, find yourself in a continuous need to stretch, feeling “tight,”or struggling to get out of pain, you deserve a solution to your problem! Call our office today at 319-423-0925 or request an appointment below!