10 Tips to Avoid Text Neck

woman neck pain

Last year 1.91 trillion text messages were sent. Also, according to the Tech research firm, IDC, 79% of 18-44 year olds have their smart phones with them 22 hours of the day. What do these mind boggling stats lead to? Back and neck pain. While back pain is quickly, and justly, attributed to stress, inadequate or improper stretching may play a larger role in mediating back pain than you realize. 

Don’t agree? Texting is synonymous with a hunched over posture, so much so that physical therapist, Dr. Dean Fishman coined the term, “text neck” to describe the repetitive stress injury caused by one’s head hung forward, looking down at phone for long periods of time.  Excessive straining of the neck can lead to headaches, achy shoulders and back pain that comes with poor posture usually associated with texting. 

While the average head weighs ten pounds, when properly postured (when ears are over shoulders) minimal strain impacts on our necks and backs. For each inch of head tilt forward, referred to as forward head posture, pressure on the spine doubles and can feel like it’s holding up to 20-30 pounds. Over time, the added pressure puts strain on the spine, flattening or reversing the natural curve of the neck, leading to misalignment, metabolic issues, bulging discs, restricted movement, bone changes, nerve compression, soreness and inflammation. 

Still not convinced? In a slouched position, lung capacity can be reduced by as much as 30%. Limited oxygenated blood flow can lead to vascular disease.  With additional pressure placed on organs due to poor posture, this can also lead to gastrointestinal and digestive problems. 

Whether you’ve been a sloucher all your life or you catch yourself leaning over the kitchen counter with your phone, there are quick adjustments that can be used to limit future pain:

  1. Be aware of how you sit. Frequently, roll shoulders back and keep ears directly over them to prevent you head from tilting forward
  2. Use Bluetooth or a headset
  3. Look down at your phone with your eyes, no need to strain neck
  4. When possible, make phone calls instead of texting
  5. Use the voice recognition feature on smart phones and tablets
  6. Use a docking station and wrist guards to support weight of tablets and phones
  7. Use Dr. Fishman’s Text Neck Indicator, an Android app, that gives real time alerts–a green light appears on top corner of phone when phone’s being held in an acceptable viewing angle; a red light appears when phone’s turned to an unacceptable viewing angle.  The app also tracks slouching patterns, calculating an average posture score. Staying above 85% is ideal, as its standard measurement for good posture
  8. Incorporate quality posture exercises, such as yoga, Bar Method and pilates
    Invest in a quality chair that will support your back. Make adjustments for your feet to stay flat on the floor
  9. Move every twenty minutes
  10. While sitting or standing, holding reading material at eye level, which prevents the need to be hunched over 

While use of smart phones is here to stay, “text neck” does not have to be.

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