First it was ‘text thumb’, now “tech” addicts are coming down with ‘text neck’ in their droves. Simply, hunching over a small screen can cause not just headaches, but numerous long-term issues. One particular area of concern is with children who are still growing, where life-long postural imbalances can occur. The rise of smartphones and tablet computers has fuelled the problem of back and neck pain. The extra capability for playing games and browsing the internet on smartphones means they tend to be used for longer periods. First it was Desktop Computer which placed enough strain on the neck and shoulders by looking slightly downward. Then there was laptops which further increased our hunched over posture. Now – tablets and mobile devices – often placed flat on the lap or held down low in the hand, meaning users crane their neck over to view the screen.
The average human head weighs between 10lb and 12lb and flexing the neck at an angle makes it harder to support, raising the odds of pain and stiffness which can radiate down the shoulders, arms and wrists. Headaches and even arthritis can develop. If you can imagine sitting on your ankle sideways for 10-15 minutes, it would feel stiff and sore when you returned it to its natural position. That is what people are doing with their necks! ‘Text neck’ can lead to irreversible arthritic degeneration if left untreated and anyone experiencing pain should get themselves checked.
People get in their car, drive to work, work on a computer, play on their mobile phones on their breaks, drive home and work on their computer and their phone again in the evening this can lead to ongoing problems. We are not built to be sitting down hunched over screens. However, that is exactly what people are doing. If people continue to put their necks in these positions, the body will gradually adapt to the stresses. Too much texting may have you running to a chiropractor because the postural changes with the head and neck moving forwards, it will eventually lead to a reversal of the natural curve of the neck. Muscles are designed to flex and retract, if you stay in a fixed posture for too long like peering over a phone you are putting those muscles under stress. Leaning the head forwards was like holding a 10 to 12lb weight away from the body – muscles will go into spas! Being taller, younger, female or slender means your neck is anatomically most at risk from neck problems, as were sedentary people not used to using different muscles.
FIVE BASIC TIPS FOR HEALTHY USING:
Take regular breaks from texting or using a table/laptop/smartphone Look straight ahead every few minutes; pull the chin back into the neck (chin tuck) and hold that position for a few seconds (do 20x every few hours) Rotate your shoulders while keeping your arms by your sides to increase blood-flow to the shoulders Sit up straight every time you text or using your device; place a small-medium pillow behind the low back for added support Hold the phone a little higher when texting