Tablets and smartphones may be handy for work, school, and entertainment, but these devices can also cause a range of health issues. The muscle strain in the head and neck that results from bending over your electronic device is often called as text neck. Here's what you need to know about this rising health problem, and what you can do about it.
What Is Text Neck?
Text neck refers to the headaches, achy shoulders, and neck pain you experience from bending your head down to your phone to text, but this phenomenon is not just limited to phones and tablets. You are probably using the same posture over a keyboard or notebook as well.
You develop text neck simply by not holding your head straight up and down on your spine. Your head weighs around 10 pounds, an amount easily supported by your muscles and spine. However, tilt that 10-pound weight forward any amount and the weight increases - something your body cannot handle.
How Is Text Neck Harmful?
Holding the head forward while looking down for long periods of time is definitely harmful. In addition to pain in the head and neck, there is a long-term possibility you may develop:
Neck sprains similar to whiplash
Reduced lung capacity and breathing problems
Text neck symptoms are not only physical. The classic hunched position during texting also causes psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, and irritability.
Who Is at Risk for Text Neck?
Anybody who bends over while using their phone or tablet for long periods of time is at risk for getting text neck. The longer you do so, the more likely you are to feel the pain. In fact, the average person now uses their electronic device over eight hours each day. With these figures, it's no wonder the headaches, sore necks, and stiff shoulders are real.
Children and adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of text neck. Because their bodies and personalities are still growing, text neck may be especially harmful to their spine, neck, and even their psychological development in the long run.
Is Text Neck Avoidable?
The best way to avoid text neck is simply to stop using your phone, tablet, keyboard, or textbooks. However, this is not practical. Instead, you can adjust the way you view your electronic devices:
Try glancing at your phone with only your eyes rather than bending your neck. This keeps your head and neck at a normal angle.
Place your phone at eye level when you view it. Or try an app that alerts you if your phone reaches an unsafe angle when it's in use.
Use a desk chair that can support your back properly.
Limit the time you spend seated at a computer and take frequent breaks. Change your position occasionally to give certain muscles a break.
During work breaks or anytime you feel that familiar stiffness or pain creeping up, try some exercises to help alleviate any pain:
Stretch your neck by tucking your chin to your chest and focusing on lifting the back of your skull toward the ceiling.
Rest on your back and press the back of your neck toward the floor. Try to imagine you are eliminating the space between the floor and your neck.
Stretch your shoulders by lying face down, hands at your side with palms up. Raise your arms up and try to reach your feet, making sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will lift the front of your shoulders off the ground.
These exercises stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders, right where the strain of texting rests.
If you feel your neck and head pains may be related to something other than texting, it may be time find out more from the caring experts at Wilmington Ear Nose & Throat Associates, PA. Contact us to schedule an appointment.