Text-Neck – Are you putting yourself at risk of injury?
Part of a special post for Digital Health Week
There’s a fairly new term that has been circulating around chiropractic offices and clinics over the past few years: ‘Text Neck’. Without even being a medical practitioner, chances are you can guess what this particular complaint involves! The term refers to the symptoms brought on by people constantly tilting their heads and necks down to look at the screens of their phones, tablets, and other wireless handheld devices. Although the term is new, the damage it causes can be widespread and long-term.
Symptoms of Text-Neck include some obvious complaints – neck pain and soreness, which can also lead to headaches. Some lesser known symptoms include upper back pain from the strain on your neck, upper back muscle spasms, and shoulder pain and tightness. So here are our tips to help you avoid that dreaded neck and back pain that is a result of too much time spent texting and surfing social media!
As with most ailments, prevention is key! According to Spine Health, “A recent study shows that 79% of the population between the ages 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them almost all the time—with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their cell phone on hand.” That’s a lot of time spent with an abnormally bent neck and posture! Taking frequent breaks from having your cell phone in hand can help ease the temptation to constantly refresh Facebook and Instagram. This could involve leaving your cell phone in a place where it’s not so easily accessible – a drawer at work or in a different room at home. We are so easily enticed into mindlessly scrolling through our phones that we rarely actually take in what we are seeing, and this can lead to unnecessary pain and injury.
It’s not just handheld electronics that can cause the symptoms of ‘text-neck’; sitting for too long at a desk and staring at a laptop or computer can have similar effects on your neck. This is aggravated further by badly-positioned monitors, where your head is bent to be able to see the screen. To help alleviate this problem, ensure your screen is at eye level where possible, and that your head is positioned squarely, in line with your shoulders and spine.
Spine Health suggest increasing your core strength to help battle the pain caused by Text-Neck. They offer specific exercises to help work those core muscles that support your neck as well as specific neck stretches that you wouldn’t normally be able to achieve in everyday movement. These exercises are key to rehabilitating your neck after injury or damage caused by straining your neck when looking at electronic screens. Links to both sets of exercises are below: