What is text neck?

To the name’s suggestion, “text neck” is the recently diagnosed epidemic of the infamous head bent downward, shoulders slumped texting posture that has become universal in the digital age.

It is the body’s automatic response to handheld technology, yet it is not just synonymous with texting. It can also be seen when people use many other digital devices such as tablets or e-book readers, computers, nooks, and gaming system controllers.

Everything we, as a society, know and understand as the appropriate relationship between our bodies and our technology has become dangerous for our spines.

What are the side effects?

You’re likely to recognize the pain, a sensation of tightness and achiness in your neck and shoulders, before pinpointing the cause. Whether you play games on your smartphone during your morning commute, respond to emails for hours a day or stare at your GPS on a cross-country road trip, when left untreated, the pain of text neck can lead to chronic headaches and constant discomfort.

The human head weighs between 10 and 11 pounds, a heaviness which strains the back of the neck when pulled too far forward. According to recent studies, for every inch forward you hold your head, the weight carried down through the spine increases by 10 pounds. At a 45-degree angle, the typical angle that most people view their cellphones, the head weighs 49 pounds, at a 60-degree angle, another popular perspective, it weighs 60 pounds.

The pressure that is put on the front of the neck also causes the back to gap, which can produce intervertebral discs to mitigate backward, increasing the chance for disc bulges, a common spine injury. The back of the neck also becomes strained because the muscles in the backside are in a constant state of contraction while trying to pull and support the head, making the muscle tense. Text neck can also create a tightening on the front of the neck and chest, leading to dysfunction in the shoulders and middle of the back.

When to visit your chiropractor:

Most people are so encompassed with and reliant on their phones that they lose track of their posture throughout the day and become unaware of how they look from an outside perspective. According to The Washington Post, research shows that over time, text neck can lead to early wear-and-tear of the spine, degeneration, and even surgery.

If you are experiencing symptoms of text neck, even on a minimal scale, act now; don’t wait for the discomfort to increase so much that the pain is unlivable for daily functions.

In the early stages, it may not be necessary to visit a professional chiropractor. In addition to a series of adjustments, there are many exercises that can be done at home to help alleviate the pain and symptoms of text neck.

The best possible action to take is to spend as much, if not more time in the opposite postural position (of text neck) to counterbalance the downward/forward head motion. In other words, if you spend time during the day looking down at your phone, spend time in the evening on a stretch that elongates the spine backward, such as the exaggerated nod head gesture.

8 helpful exercises to combat text neck:

  1. Exaggerated Nod
  2. Downward-Facing Dog
  3. Cat-Cow
  4. Padahastasana
  5. Bow Pose
  6. Chin Tuck
  7. Pigeon Neck
  8. Chest Opening

All exercises can be found at these links:

 

 

 

How Dehydration Affects Your Brain, Energy Levels, and Body

Most people know that dehydration is bad for them, but you may be surprised at how it can affect you.

Right now, we are still encountering the sweltering heat of summer —high temperatures are breaking records here in DC and around the world — and the Northern Hemisphere may experience its hottest year ever recorded.

There is typically a spike in dehydration in the mid- and late-summer months, when the heat index is the highest.

Aside from the general lightheaded feeling and dry mouth that individuals commonly recognize as dehydration, there are many hidden dangers that affect your physical and mental health. Our brains are highly influenced by hydration status and even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can result in impaired brain function. Dehydration has been shown to negatively impact concentration, and functions such as problem-solving, motor coordination, and attention suffer the most.

Although it’s still unknown exactly when cognitive errors occur, studies show that the most severe impairments start to transpire at a 2 percent drop in body mass, a water weight loss that can happen quickly.

Surprising Benefits of Staying Hydrated

I usually tell my patients to go with the formula of 1/2 your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 200 lbs., then you want to try to drink 100 ounces per day.

There are many benefits of staying hydrated — some you may not know about!

  • Prevent headaches: Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines, and increasing your water intake can help.
  • Think more clearly: You may feel foggy and have trouble concentrating without enough water. Drinking up to be more productive at work!
  • Relieve constipation: Increased fluid intake can help alleviate symptoms of constipation. Low water consumption has been shown as a risk factor for constipation in young and elderly individuals.
  • Lose weight: Drinking water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate. Sometimes what we mistake for hunger is actually thirst.

Signs of dehydration include feelings of thirst, dizziness, heat cramps, nausea, mood changes, fatigue, and frequent headaches. In extreme cases, when left untreated, you may end up having to go to the emergency room for treatment.

How easily a person becomes dehydrated is dependent on their body mass. Younger children and infants need to monitor their hydration more than an adult would because they have a lower total body weight and a higher concentration of water. An infant’s total body water is 70 percent whereas it’s about 65 percent in older children and 60 in adults; infants and children can also turn over electrolytes and water faster than other age groups, meaning they lose water more quickly than adults.

Tips on Staying Hydrated Safely

  • Hydrate throughout the day: Drinking too much water can dilute the body, leading to a low sodium and salt intake in the blood and, in extreme cases, cause seizures. Stay hydrated by taking in fluids throughout the day, not all at once. Keep a water bottle with you!
  • Eat for the weather: Especially in hot weather and the summer months, try to consume fruits and vegetables and other foods that have high water content.
  • Exercise around the sun and heat: It’s great to stay active, but it’s best to exercise when the sun isn’t at its peak. Exercise indoors if it’s especially hot and humid outside, or go out for your walk, run or bike ride before the sun rises or after the sun sets. (Be sure to wear reflective, light weight clothing.)

Following these tips on hydration and ensuring that you always carry around extra liquids when out in the sun is a great way to ensure you don’t experience dehydration.

Stay cool! (And hydrated!)