Is your posture to blame for your neck pain and headaches?
Technology is something we all rely on more everyday and makes many tasks easier. One thing technology does not help us with is our posture. Whether on the computer or using your phone or tablet it seems to slip our minds to sit up straight. When using our phone we all end up in a slumped over posture looking down – this is where the term text neck come from. Text neck adds a lot of extra pressure through the joints and muscles in your neck and upper back, this can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches and even difficulty breathing.
What is Text Neck?
Text neck is one way to refer to the posture we adopt when on our phone, tablet or even computer. What happens:
- You look down
- Your head moves forward and down
- Your shoulders come forward
- You slump forward
This position puts a lot of extra weight on your neck and upper back – for approximately every 3cm your neck move forwards it doubles in weight. When your head is looking down at your phone it can be tripled in weight which can add and extra 10 kg of pressure
to your neck and upper back.
This extra pressure changes the way your whole neck works, muscles become tight, ligaments are stretched beyond their usual movement and your joints become fixated. All these changes can cause pain and other symptoms.
Symptoms of Text Neck
There are many side effects of text neck, most don’t occur quickly but develop overtime.
- Neck Pain is the most direct symptom of text neck, extra pressure and stress through the joints and muscles cause pain
- Headaches are another common symptom, tension, tightness and loss of mobility through the neck can cause head pain.
- Shoulder Pain many of the muscles through the neck also form your shoulder. Also as your neck moves forward so does your shoulders pulling through the back of your shoulders and neck while contracting and compressing through the front of your chest
- Proximal cross syndrome is the technical name for the posture of text neck when it becomes everyday posture even when you’re no longer using your phone. Long term this posture causes tightness through the chest and upper back muscles and weakness of your mid back and neck muscles.
- Difficulty breathing can occur when you are slumped forward and taking shallow breaths due to your shoulders and rib cage restricting the expansion of your lungs.
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is when muscles or joints through your shoulder compress a nerve or artery causing pins and needles, numbness or weakness in your arm. This commonly occurs when sleeping on one side or doing a task with your hands above your head.
7 Tips to reduce pain caused by text neck
- Limit phone/ tablet use it might be easier to look something up or quickly check emails/ Facebook on your hand held device but if you plan to be online for any significant amount of time use your computer – just make sure it is set up correctly!
- Change your position try using your phone in a way that doesn’t involve you looking down for long periods or switch your position every 5 minutes or so. Try these postures:
- Lie on your stomach and lift your device in front of your eyes
- Lie on your back and hold your device above your head
- Lift your arms so your device is in front of your face
- Look down with your eyes it is easier to look down with your whole head but you can reduce neck stress by looking down with your eyes.
- Neck Flexibility Exercises simple exercises and stretches such as neck rolls or shoulder stretches will improve the movement of your neck and are especially useful after long periods on a computer or phone see our video
- Mid Back strengthening Exercises will strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades to help improve your posture. The easiest one is to simply squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 10 seconds. See our video for more exercises
- Move every 30 minutes. Make sure to get up, walk around and move your neck regularly. If you know you’re going to be on your device for a long period of time set a timer for every 30 minutes to remind you to get moving.
- Finally and most importantly get your spine checked by you health care professional. Correcting any functional problem with your spine combined with exercises, stretches and better posture may remove any underlying problems that helped create your text neck in the first place..
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