Did you know that tilting the head forward just a few degrees – glancing down at your phone, for example – can place almost 30 pounds of force on your neck?
Now think about how much time you spend looking down at your laptop or using your phone to text, play games, answer emails, or scroll through social media.
Text Neck Syndrome is a new phenomenon that is causing headaches, stiffness, and pain in increasing numbers of patients. And since no one is going to slow their use of their phones any time soon, it’s important to be aware of safeguards, techniques, and stretches you can do to alleviate this problem.
First, here’s what to look for that may indicate you have Text Neck Syndrome:
- Pain when you look down at your phone or laptop – you will feel this in the back of your neck and sometimes radiating up into your head.
- Tired and hurting shoulders and neck by the end of the day – your head will feel heavy, and you’ll just want to lie down to alleviate the stress on your spine.
- A headache. It may come and go, but it will worsen when you spend any amount of time looking down. Primarily, it will ache in the back of your head.
- Posture problems – you’ll notice yourself stooping or projecting your head forward like a turtle. You may even notice your shoulders starting to round.
If you are experiencing this type of pain or changes to your posture, do a quick test by standing with your back against the wall in your typical position. Does your head rest against the wall along with your buttocks and upper back, or does it protrude forward? Does it feel stiff when you try to straighten it up to align with the rest of your body?
If so, your posture is being affected by your frequently tilted head, and unless you want to endure pain and fight muscle and nerve issues indefinitely, it’s time to change your cell phone and laptop habits.
Here are some suggestions for improving your posture to avoid or correct Text Neck Syndrome:
- Raise your phone or laptop to eye level. This might mean that you need to change your work setup or use a lap desk to elevate your work surface. Constantly remind yourself to lift your phone rather than dipping your head.
- Try not to stare at any screen for too long – this will not only help your neck, but also your eyes and your brain. Take frequent breaks, stand, move around, and change positions.
- Stretch and practice good posture while you’re standing. If you are poking your head forward, retract it or even let it fall back for a good stretch. Aim for good posture always. Imagine a string pulling straight up from the top of your head. This will help you properly align your spine and neck.
- Exercise! This will naturally loosen your muscles, get your blood flowing, and increase mobility in your neck, shoulders, and back.
Text Neck Syndrome is a real problem, but solving it begins by acknowledging it and being aware of it moving forward. Small changes can make a big difference in the health of your neck and in your overall posture.