“Text neck” is a real thing! I surveyed the streetcar I was on the other day and sure enough, 90% of the passengers were on their smartphones and all of them had their heads down 30˚ or more. So I’ve asked Dr. Nekessa Remy, a Toronto chiropractor and medical acupuncturist, to write a guest post for us on how to avoid text neck. Take it away Dr. Remy!
With the average millennial spending, roughly 3.2 hours per day on their smart phone, it’s no wonder that injuries like “text neck’” are becoming more prevalent. Not sure what text neck is? Think about the posture you are in as you scroll through emails on your phone, reply to your text messages or check out the latest celebrity gossip on Instagram. Your shoulders are rounded forward, your back is hunched and your head is leaning over towards your screen. What does this mean for your neck? The more our heads bend forward and away from our torso, the more pressure we place we place on our spines. Bending our neck at just 15 degrees forward, can increase the stress on our spines by an additional 27 lbs. This added weight increases pressure on the muscles and joints that make up the neck and ultimately cause pain. Some of the common symptoms of text neck include a sore neck, upper shoulder tension, eye strain and headaches. So, the next time you tap or swipe at your smartphone keep these tips in mind to avoid developing the dreaded text neck.
Check your posture – Start by raising your phone closer to eye level. You want to glance down with your eyes, rather than crouching your neck. Also keep you elbows in at your side. This will help to alleviate tension in the shoulders.
Take a break. Try not to spend more than 20 minutes at a time utilizing your phone in one sitting. For example, if you are using your phone to reply to multiple emails put your phone down and head to a computer which can allow for more supportive posture.
Instead of texting, try making a phone call. Believe or not, there was a time when we would call to wish our family and friends happy birthday!
Stretch it out. Stretching and exercises some of the muscles in the neck can help to alleviate soreness. Try turning your head towards your left shoulder, hold for five seconds and repeat on your right side.
Chin tuck exercises can help to strengthen muscles in the neck, to perform:
1. Lie on your back
2. Tuck your chin slightly
3. Raise your head up just high enough to force you to contract the muscles in the front of your neck against gravity
4. Slowly continue to raise your head into more neck flexion (chin down to chest)
5. Don’t let your chin jut forward
6. Hold for 30 seconds (or whatever time you can tolerate. Many of you will be super tired after 10 secs)
7. Repeat 3x daily
Apply the Rule of 20’sA– To prevent eye strain at try looking away from your screen every 20 minutes at an object roughly 20 feet away for approximately 20 seconds.