A new epidemic of neck pain is sweeping our nation. Dubbed "Text Neck", it is especially prevalent among teenagers, but affects thousands of adults as well
Our tech savvy lifestyle gives us many advantages, but it also presents new challenges. By constantly bending our necks to read and work on our devices, we are giving ourselves a pain in the neck and putting a strain on their necks and spine that can cause serious lifelong problems.
It’s the position we’re putting ourselves and the amount of time we spend there that is compounding the problem. Our head is a heavy object for our neck to support, applying about 10-12 pounds to our neck when held in the proper position.
But when we bend our head forward and down, as we do in reading or typing on our cell phones and laptops, that pressure begins to increase from 27 pounds at a 15 degree angle up to 60 pounds at 60 degrees.
While we stare at our smartphones—which research says millions of us do for hours every day—this poor posture, dubbed “text neck,” puts strain on your spine and can pull it out of alignment. It’s been likened to carrying an eight year old child around your neck!
Recent research reports that the average smartphone user spends as much as 4 hours a day staring at their phones. This can add up to 1400 hours a year of stress on the cervical spine. As you consistently stretch the tissue and ligaments, over time it can cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, and herniated discs. Dr. James Carter, a leading Australian chiropractor has reported that the spine can shift by up to 4 cm after repeated head tilts. Untreated, over time “text neck” can remove the neck’s natural curve and require surgery.
Try this: sit in a slumped position, rest your chin on your chest and take a deep breath. Then sit up straight in the chair and try it again. Do you fee the difference? Resting your chin on your chest stretches your spinal cord and brain stem. Slouching affects your respiration, heart rate and blood pressure, as well as reducing your lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. This reduction in oxygenated blood has been linked to headaches, neurological issues, depression, and heart disease.
Although we may not be willing or able to disconnect from our tech devices, we can minimize the negative effects of using those devices by being smart.
Lift your phone to eye level instead of bending your head to your phone.
Look down with your eyes instead of bending your neck.
Sit up straight in your chair and avoid pulling your shoulders forward.
When working on your laptop, position it so you can hold your head as straight as possible and keep the keyboard horizontal to your normal elbow position.
Take frequent breaks, standing up and moving around every 15 -20 minutes.
Exercise your neck frequently. Move your head as far to the right as possible, then center, then as far as possible to the left. Place your hand on one side of your head and push your head against it. Then do the same on the other side.
Stop frequently to evaluate your posture. Pull your shoulders back and head up so you don’t unconsciously stay in a less favorable position.
Install an app on your phone that will alert you if your neck is the wrong position ("Watch Your Neck" for Iphones; “Text Neck Indicator” or “Posture Reminder” for Andriod).
If you are experiencing frequent headaches, neck or upper back pain, or aching shoulders, you may already be suffering from the effects of text neck. Call us at (417) 725-6655 and schedule an evaluation.
Your Nixa chiropractor, Dr. Hunter Greenwood DC ND, has over 30 years experiencing diagnosing and treating neck and back problems. If diagnosed early, chiropractic adjustments in conjunction with specific exercises and other therapies as needed can help correct the curvature and prevent lifelong difficulties. So call today at (417) 725-6655 or click the link below to schedule your appointment and let the healing begin!