Could you have “text neck”?
Do you suffer from neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, or headaches? You may have text neck! Read on to find out if you or even your children suffer from this ever-growing phenomenon.
Does this look familiar?
If so, then you too may be at risk or already suffering from text neck.
Almost all of us use some form of electronic device: computer, phone, tablet, e-reader, or gaming device. Chances are, you’re reading this article on one right now. And more than likely, you’re looking down at the device, rather than reading it at eye level. Americans are now spending a great deal of time with their heads bent down, thanks to our love of high-tech toys.
All that time spent looking down with our heads pushed forward is leading to a huge increase in pain related complaints, including from our children. This type of head position is causing an overuse syndrome that leads to headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, and much more. And recently it has earned a new name: Text Neck (or Tech Neck).
This is not a new syndrome. In fact, doctors have known about it for years. The medical term is forward head posture, and it can result when anyone spends a great deal of time with their head pushed forward and down (so even good old-fashioned book-reading can be to blame). The human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, so leaning over constantly takes a toll. And if the poor posture continues, it can lead to changes in the spine that aren’t reversible and lead to chronic pain.
Text neck is a problem being seen more and more in teenagers (and even younger). Hours spent texting, gaming, or browsing on hand-held devices is leading to neck pain, headache, and loads of other problems.
What to do about it?
Proper posture is the key. You should focus on keeping your head and shoulders back (think about pulling your shoulder blades back and down), keeping your phone or device at eye level, maintaining good posture and avoid looking down.
Learning to hold your arms out and look straight ahead may seem awkward at first, but it can really save your neck and spine.
For kids, teach them to sit with their back against the wall, with knees drawn up so that they can rest their hands on their knees, thus keeping their gaming device or phone at eye level. The idea is to keep the device right in front of their face, instead of using it hunched over.
· Neck extensions: Lie face down with arms at your side. Slowly look up at the ceiling, lifting your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for four to 10 seconds and repeat.
· Shoulder retraction: Move shoulder blades back and down, holding for a few seconds and repeat.
· Abdominal hallowing: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be flat on the floor with your palms up. Suck in your stomach as if you’re pulling your belly button down to your spine and hold for four to 10 seconds and repeat
· Take frequent breaks every 15 minutes and hold your head back
· Tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder) then to the other side, back to neutral. Then turn to look all the way to the right, then left, back to neutral. Then lean head back and back to neutral.
· Use a tablet holder: There are many on the market, but all have the common goal of securing the tablet at a height that is designed to reduce your need to keep your head bent down and forward
What else? You guessed it…there’s an app for that. An app called Text Neck (available for Android, not yet for iPhones) indicates users when they are demonstrating proper posture. The application can also send reports to parents to help monitor their children’s posture while using their phones.