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:
- Exaggerated Nod
- Downward-Facing Dog
- Bow Pose
- Chin Tuck
- Pigeon Neck
- Chest Opening
All exercises can be found at these links: