How Screen Time Can Negatively Impact Our Bodies
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.
How To Avoid Screen-Time Related Pain
Canadians spend more time than ever before on a computer, tablet or smart phone. With the rise of screen time, more and more people come into our East Vancouver clinic with neck and shoulder pain. Our Chiropractors and Registered Massage Therapists are noticing that a large amount of screen time many people engage in negatively affects posture. A Harvard School of Public Health study showed that holding a tablet too low in your lap can put the cervical vertebrae and the neck muscles in unnatural positions, straining muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments and spinal discs.
How do you limit the damage caused by screen time?
To avoid many aches and pains, our practitioners recommend that you cut back on your screen time. We know that is easier said than done, so we have provided you with some simple ergonomic tips to help you ease your pain!
Be aware of your posture
- Pull your shoulders back
- Keep your head straight
- Don’t cross your legs
Take a break every 15 minutes
- Switch hands when holding your tablet or smart phone
- Stand up and stretch your neck and back muscles
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.
Laptop or Desktop Computer Use
- Make sure your chair has good lumbar support (a simple fix is placing a pillow against the small of your back)
- The top of your computer monitor should be at eye level
- Your elbows should be close to your body
- Your hands, wrists, forearms and thighs should be parallel to the floor
- Use a hands free headset instead of placing your phone between your head and shoulder
Tablet or E-Reader
- The top of your device should be just below eye level
The tips above can help limit the damage. For stretches and exercises that you can do check out resources page!
Spine Health suggests 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:
How can we help if you’re experiencing neck or back pain?
If you continue to experience neck and back pain, our East Vancouver Clinic can provide you with a postural and spinal assessment. Treatment programs will include spinal joint mobilizations, stretches, exercises and postural tips to avoid neck and back pain in the future. We also offer Registered Massage Therapy for acute and chronic pain relief.
Call or email our office to book an appointment. Get your spine aligned for optimal musculoskeletal function!