Are you suffering from Text Neck? Maybe this is the first time you have heard of it, but Text Neck is becoming more recognized as a problem.
As I started writing this post, I looked around the room. The majority of those in the room were looking down at their phones or devices. The makings of Text Neck were definitely at play all around me.
For those who have never heard of Text Neck, I have no doubt you will recognize it quickly. Look around and you will most likely see someone sitting looking down at their phone. Pay close attention to the angle the neck makes as the head tips forward.
Text Neck is a term to describe that angle and the associated strain on the neck muscles. A human head weighs about 10 pounds. The further the head is brought forward, the more strain there is on the muscles and tendons in the back of the neck.
This strain can lead to neck pain, headaches, shoulder dysfunction, and a variety of other issues. Many things I treat on a daily basis can be influenced, if not caused by poor posture. The head going forward causes the shoulder to follow and before you know it, you have been there for an hour.
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid the oh so common Text Neck.
Change the way you hold your phone
Most of the time, our default position is to hold our phones with our arm relaxed. This then causes the neck position we have been talking about. This can also happen with holding a tablet or while on a computer.
The Solution? Hold your phone higher so you are not looking down as much. Try to hold it to the point where your head can sit directly on top of your spine.
The drawback to this way of holding the phone is that your arms will most likely get tired. Now, this is not all bad. You will most likely have to take some breaks…which brings us to the second tip.
Take Some Breaks!
Yes, I am saying to put the phone down a bit. The more breaks you take, the more you get out of that forward posture. The more you are out of the forward posture, the less strain you will have on the muscles and tendons at the back of the neck.
I am not saying you should never hold your phone, but we should probably all take more breaks. It is not very possible to live without our phones, we just need to be more aware of what we are doing and how we are standing while on them.
Stretch the Front of the Shoulders
One thing that can help counteract the forward posture is to stretch and open your posture. This can help to reduce some of the strain associated with the headaches and neck pain that can accompany text neck.
One simple way to do this is to stand facing a corner and put your arms up on the walls. Then, lean forward into the corner until you feel a stretch on the front of the shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds and do this 2-3 times twice a day.
Another great way to open the front of the shoulders and posture is to use a foam roll. This is probably my favorite way of stretching out a forward posture.
You can find both ways to stretch on this video I made for shoulder pain.
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Strengthen the Back and Neck Muscles
Stretching the front of the shoulders is one way to improve posture, but if we don’t have the muscles to support this posture, we will just end up back in that position. To counteract this, we need to add strength to the muscles that keep up there.
There are many ways to strengthen the muscles of the upper back and neck to improve posture endurance. I made the following video to help people with shoulder pain by strengthening the posture muscles.
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Be More Active
Increasing or modifying your activity level can have a huge impact in not only your neck pain, but your overall well being and quality of life. Moving more and using our muscles and joints as they were designed can have a big impact.
Being more active can also get us out of the forward posture we have been talking about. The more you move, the less the muscles on the back of the neck are supporting your head in one position all the time. This gives them a much needed break.
There are so many good things about being active and exercise that I could keep going on and on. The bottom line is that our bodies are not meant to sit in one position all day.
If you are having neck pain or even just wanting to avoid it, then try the 5 tips above. I see so many problems that can be influenced in a good way by improving posture. It truly is becoming an epidemic and being in one position too long is being found in the research as harmful to our bodies.
Take control of your posture and avoid Text Neck!
If you have any specific questions about posture or questions about YOUR specific problem, please don’t hesitate to email me. email@example.com
David Butler, Physical Therapist
Owner, Clinic Director