Smartphones are an integral part of our lives, but they can also cause a lot of pain.
Learn what “text neck” is and how to prevent it.
Technology touches our lives in many different ways. It has opened the roads of communication, allowed us to see people from other countries on video, pack computers in a bag and carry them along, and given us the ability to take quality photos any time we want.
So what if we told you that technology could actually be causing you physical pain? The way we hold devices (and how long we use them), can actually manifest in aches and pains throughout our body.
Namely: text neck.
Read on to find out what text neck is, and how you might be able to alleviate/prevent it.
What is “Text Neck”?
Text neck is a relatively new term that is used to describe the forward leaning posture a body assumes when it is texting, looking at a phone to read, or just scrolling. It is not unique to a smartphone either, the body naturally assumes this position when using a gaming device, iPad, or e-reader, too.
It’s estimated that 75% of the world’s population is hunched over their devices on a daily basis. This position typically lasts for hours.
The average human head weighs around 10-12 pounds—that’s a lot of weight for your neck to carry! The type of injury this posture causes is not immediate. It’s a gradual effect caused by continued stress on the neck, spine, and connecting tissues.
Symptoms of Text Neck
There are several symptoms that can point to this condition, depending on your unique anatomy, posture, and the length of time you spend looking down at a device. The following symptoms are not exhaustive and not a replacement for a diagnosis from a physician or chiropractor.
The type of headache you would feel from text neck is known as a tension headache.
When your neck is stretched into the same position for an extended period of time, this can place pressure on the nerves running to your head and shoulder.
When muscles stay in one position for too long without calculated movement, you can develop stiffness. Stiffness means it’s slow to move and hard to stretch.
This can affect your range of motion as well as pull your joints out of alignment.
It’s called the “muscular system” for a reason: all of the muscles in your body are connected in one way or another. A pinched nerve from text neck can cause referred pain down to the shoulders, arms, hands, or head.
All of the muscle tightness might make it difficult to move your neck. This makes it a lot easier to pull a muscle, since the tissues aren’t used to such this range of motion.
Not only are you dealing with the pain from text neck, you now also have a pulled muscle.
How To Heal or Prevent It
Text neck isn’t something that will just go away if you ignore it for long enough. You need to take special steps to either treat or prevent this condition in order to remain pain-free.
Limit Device Time
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the less time you spend on your device(s) the less time you’ll be in the classic “text neck” posture.
Schedule some time for a device time-out and stick to it! You may find that you like being off-the-grid for a while.
If you find it hard to put down your device (or if you have to use it daily for work) try to change the position you’re in every few minutes.
Although not ideal, it can still help if you’re moving those muscles as opposed to them remaining static for long periods of time.
When we exercise, our muscles remain flexible and oxygenated. When our muscles are strong and flexible, we don’t succumb to as much pressure and pain as someone who is out of shape.
Correct Your Posture
When it comes to a lifetime of incorrect posture, we know this is easier said than done. But there’s no time like the present to correct yourself! Having correct posture can not only eliminate pain, but also prevent it.
When you’re using a device try to stand straight and raise your device to eye level.
This might not be the best solution, but it’s definitely effective. If you’re lying down and your spine is straight, it can help the poor posture of text necks. You can even rotate lying down with your changing of positions.
Just make sure that you’re not still looking “down” (relative to your body position) at your phone. If you don’t mind looking a little funny, a set of “lazy glasses” can help.
Treating Acute Pain
If you’re currently experiencing pain related to text neck, there are a few things you can do.
For immediate relief, applying heat and ice can help reduce pain and increase your range of motion. You can also take OTC pain relievers, but use in moderation for short stretches of time. Anti-inflammatory medications (such as Tylenol) aren’t meant to be taken every day and can do more harm than good if used too often.
The most important thing you can do is to visit your chiropractor. Not only can they give you tips and tricks about posture and avoiding text neck, but can realign your spine to alleviate existing pain.
Technology really does have its pros and cons. Unfortunately the very things we use to connect with loved ones can cause us physical pain. Nobody should have to live in pain, and luckily, there are remedies for text neck.
Chiropractic adjustments are a safe, natural, and effective way to alleviate pain. Call us today to book an appointment.