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Is texting just a pain in the neck? How bad is your posture?

February 27, 2017

 

A modern Spine Ailment: Text Neck

 

Widespread overuse of handheld mobile technology is resulting in a harmful and dangerous physical condition on the human body, which is known as Text Neck. Texting puts the head on average 4.5” in front of the shoulders, and increases the weight and stress on the neck leading to excessive wear and tear. Children and teens are especially at risk for suffering symptoms of text neck, as growing children could permanently damage their cervical spines and lead to lifelong neck pain.

 

Teens average over 3,000 texts per month or 30 hours of use. Of course, Text Neck is not limited to the results of texting and overuse of mobile phones. For years, we've all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more rather significant activity that causes us to look down over much longer periods.

 

Symptoms associated with text neck

 

Text neck most commonly causes neck pain and soreness. In addition, looking down at your mobile phone too much each day can lead to a number of conditions which include:

  • Upper back pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp severe upper back muscle spasms.

  • Shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm.

  • If a cervical nerve becomes pinched, pain and possibly neurological symptoms can radiate down your arm and into your hand. 

  • If not remedied, text neck may possibly lead to chronic problems due to early onset of arthritis in the neck.

 

How to Prevent Text Neck and Improve Your Posture

 

Good posture matters. Pain related to technology

use is often due to poor posture and ergonomics. For every inch that your head moves forward from its neutral position, another 10lb in weight is exerted on your neck. The easiest way to address text neck is to change the way you hold your phone - Bring the screen to eye level so your head is not slouched forward or too high. Alternatively, alter your texting positions or perhaps try voice recognition and make phone calls instead of texting. Also take regular breaks; and when using a tablet, buy a case that allows you to prop up the tablet on a table.

 

Posture Exercises to Balance Your Muscles

 

Strengthening and stretching your muscles may also help alleviate some of that nagging pain. While a visit to a physical therapist can help guide your specific needs, try these four quick exercises to help combat technology-induced slump.

 

Neck Rotations

This will prevent stiffness in the neck and increase your range of movement over time.

 

How to: Look gently to the left and right, 10 times on each side. Try to perform these every hour throughout the day.

 

Shoulder Blade Pinches

This move will help to strengthen the muscles of the upper back, which tend to get lengthened and weakened when you slouch.

 

How to: While sitting or standing straight, pinch your shoulder blades together and back. You’ll feel the front of your shoulders roll back. Hold for a few seconds, release and repeat. Perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day.

 

Pec Stretch

While slouching results in overstretched and feeble upper back muscles, it also leads to short and tight pecs.

 

How to: Stand in a doorway and place your forearms against the frame of the door, with your elbows at shoulder height. With one foot forward, draw your shoulder blades together on your back and gently lean into the door. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat once more. Perform this stretch three to four times a day.

 

Chin Tucks

Chin tucks strengthen the neck muscles and help you pull your head back into alignment.

 

 

How to: Sit up tall in a chair and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Without tilting your head in any direction, gently draw your head and chin back, like you’re making a double chin. Be careful not to jam your head back. You should feel a stretch along the back of the neck. Release your chin forward. Repeat. You can perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day.

 

While the best advice is to take frequent breaks from your computer or mobile phone, these exercises, along with improving your posture, are good preventative measures. If this doesn’t relieve your pain, know that your problem may be more serious and seek out a physical therapist.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck http://dailyburn.com/life/tech/text-neck-posture-exercises/ http://text-neck.com http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3274835/Shocking-X-rays-teenagers-text-neck.html https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/nov/24/text-neck-how-smartphones-damaging-our-spines

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