As technology improves, it unfortunately brings with it a variety of physical issues. There are more complaints of back pain, neck pain, and wrist pain than ever before, and an overwhelming number of children and teens are among those affected with these ailments. Chief among these complaints is neck pain, which has been coined “text neck”. Text neck is used to describe pain and damage in the neck caused by looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other smart device for extended periods of time.
Most people hold their devices at waist or chest level and therefore have to look down, which causes a shortening and tightening of the neck, jutting the head forward, and a rounding of the shoulders. In fact, according to a study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitative Medicine, the more you bend your neck, the more weight your head puts on your spine. He states that in the neutral position, the head weighs 10-12 pounds, but at 15 degrees forward, the stress on the neck increases to 27 pounds of weight, at 45 degrees it increases to 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees, it carries 60 pounds. Some experts say the pressure on the spine doubles for every inch the head tilts forward. This extra weight can cause a great deal of damage to the muscles and nerves of the neck over time, including upper back pain and spasms, shoulder pain and tightness, tears within the discs, herniated discs, and arthritis.
A large majority of people with text neck have pretty normal MRIs and can get enormous relief with physical therapy. It is imperative to do things to relieve the pain and strain in your neck such as stretching, massage, or seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist. However, the best way to treat text neck is to learn proper posture and prevent it!
There are many different tools you can use to prevent text neck. First, hold your cell phone at eye level as much as possible, and make sure all types of screens are positioned so you don’t have to bend your neck to see the screen. You can also lie down on your back and hold your phone up to see so you do not put any strain on your neck at all. It is also important to take frequent breaks when using technology. Get up, stretch and walk around! Engaging in postural exercises and stretches is also extremely helpful. Videos and examples of these exercises can be found on our website at https://thearenafitness.com/exercise-library/posture-videos/