Cell phone use is dramatically on the rise. 79% of the population has their cell phone with them for 22 hours a day. Did you know that the average smartphone user spends an average of 2 to 4 hours each day with his or her head dropped down? Between reading emails, sending texts, and checking social media sites, mobile device users are spending a good chunk of their day with their head tilted down staring at a screen. As a result, cases of “text neck,” which can cause head pain, arm pain, neck pain, and numbness, are on the rise.
The issue is that as your head leans forward, it places additional weight on your spine. The more your head tilts forward, the greater this effective weight. A 15-degree angle, for example, places an additional 27 pounds of weight on your spine, while a 60-degree angle places an additional 60 pounds of weight on your spine. This can be likened to bending your finger back all the way and holding it there for an hour. Surrounding tissues stretch, becoming sore and inflamed; muscles stretch; and nerves pinch. It’s not a pretty picture. Furthermore, a head that is tilted down causes the anterior neck muscles to be shortened and tightened, rounding the shoulders. This kind of poor posture, along with the extra weight placed on the spine, will inevitably lead to aches and pains.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH TEXT NECK?
The upper part of the neck is curved to ensure plenty of space for the nerves. However, when constantly looking down at a phone, typically the neck crunches down on this space and compresses the nerves. This may lead to pain, tingling, muscle spasms or other related disfunction.
In chronic cases, the neck can actually lose its natural shape which would cause severe misalignment, and consequently lead to a host of other problems.
Text neck can also lead to ligament creep which puts the ligaments holding the vertebrae in place under considerable tension. Ultimately, this could lead to loosening of these ligaments, meaning they will not be able to hold the neck in place.
As a result of these extra stresses, early wearing of the spine through herniated discs may result.
CAN TEXT NECK CAUSE LONG TERM ISSUES, AND HOW CAN IT BE HELPED?
All this extra stress on your neck may lead to long term damage. Text neck is strongly associated with poor posture and linked with such things as neurological conditions, headaches, and even depression. One study has found that lung capacity has been reduced by up to 30% as a result of text neck injury.
If you are suffering from neck pain, then it is important to see your chiropractor. Your chiropractor will be able to manipulate your neck back into position and help manage the pain.
Special exercises can also help. Here’s a couple of examples:
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. Tuck in your chin to the point where the voice changes pitch (your voice will start to sound “funny”). At that point, release the chin slightly so the voice clears and stay in position! Be careful not to jam your head back. You should feel a stretch along the back of the next. Release your chin forward. Repeat. You can perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day
SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZES:
Sit up straight in a chair. Your neck should be long and your legs should be at a 90-degree angle.
Drop your shoulders, if tension has caused them to creep closer to your ears. Let your arms hang to your sides.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, as though you are trying to get them to touch. Hold this for 3 seconds. Slowly release to a relaxed position. Repeat this exercise 10 times, moving in a controlled manner. Increase to holding for 10 seconds and then to doing 2 to 3 sets per day as you get stronger.
The goal of this exercise is to improve muscle strength in your shoulders so that you can raise your chest. It is difficult to have good head posture if your head is not supported by your chest and shoulders. Look down at your shoulders frequently throughout the day. If they are forward from your chest, do a few shoulder squeezes to set them in the right place. You can Google “Rhomboid exercises”, and get more exercises.
If you want more exercises, then download our special text neck report with lots more information on this condition and what you can do if you are suffering.
My staff and I would love to work with you. All you have to do is call my office right now and we will schedule a time that’s convenient for you! I have the friendliest staff you will ever meet and we are all specially trained in handling the often-confusing paperwork and forms that need to be filled out.
We look forward to helping you Feel Better Faster.
Lacey, Washington 98516