Text Neck – What is your smartphone doing to your spine?

neck painIt’s not often that we see a new condition appears in our clinic at Hands on Health but with the massive surge in the use (and overuse) of smartphones and ipad’s we are now seeing many patients suffering from the new phenomenon of ‘Text Neck’.

What is Text Neck?

Text Neck is a repetitive stress injury to your neck or cervical spine caused by constantly looking down at your smartphone or tablet pc. It commonly presents itself with headaches, painful neck, tight and sore shoulder muscles and an increased curvature of the spine.

How does this occur?

Whether seated or standing, we overwhelmingly hold our tech devices at stomach or chest level when using them. This inevitably places our head in a bent forward or flexed posture for a cumulatively long period of the day. Our head weighs approximately 5kg and when held in front of our natural centre of gravity a large increase in the stress of our cervical spine joints is experienced. The increased pressure on the neck joints results in muscle and ligamentous injury as they try to counteract the increased forces upon them. Finally with the increased activity of muscles in the area and stress to the joints and soft tissues we may experience headaches and over the long term a deformation of the normal curvatures of the spine.

What can I do to prevent this?

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to help prevent Text Neck:

  1. Level up your devices – Bring up your ipad and smartphone to eye level, that means holding them in front of your eyes rather than down at stomach level.
  2. Practice good posture – Holding your body in a better posture goes a long way towards keeping a better posture for the long term. Hold your shoulders back slightly, keep your shoulders down and concentrate on not ‘shrugging’ your shoulders up constantly, keep your head further back rather than letting it sit in front of your body.
  3. Stretch – Do neck and shoulder rolls regularly, head retraction holds, and trapezius and pectoral stretches.
  4. Reduce use – This may be an obvious one but the advice is rarely consumed. We are using our tech devices an inordinate amount these days and they are having a detrimental impact on productivity and school and in the workplace. Your body will thank you.
  5. See your Chiropractor – Chiropractors at Hands on Health are professionally trained and experienced in resolving Text Neck for the long term. We are experts in locating the site of dysfunction, treating the local and contributing causes, and training you to be in control of your ailments for the future.

July 15, 2015
Georgina Smith