In the last few months, talk about “text-neck” has been all over the news and social media. It is a term used to describe looking down at wireless devices for too long. People are passing their time by texting, reading, and playing games on their smartphones and tablets. With about everyone owning a smartphone and tablet nowadays, this is becoming a big issue. This article will explain some of the problems “text-neck” can cause and how to prevent “text-neck”.
What problems can “text-neck” cause?
Think of your head as a 10 to 15 pound bowling ball resting on top of your shoulders (YIKES). In normal structural alignment, your head should be balanced over the center of your shoulders. This normal structural alignment, allows the forces of gravity to be distributed evenly throughout your spine. When your head shifts forward more than an inch from this normal alignment, it puts extra pressure on your spine and causes neck muscles to tighten and stress. For every inch forward that your head shifts, it is an extra 10 pounds of pressure being put into your spine. It is not uncommon for the “text-neck” position to be 3 to 4 inches forward from the normal alignment. This is an extra 30 to 40 pounds of pressure on your spine.
While being in this position for short periods of time won’t cause much structural damage, prolonged periods of time that we see associated with “text-neck” could cause long-term structural damage. People are in this “text-neck” position for hours a day. Eventually the spine is going to break down and damage will occur from the prolonged force and pressure. Neck pain, neck stiffness/tightness, numbness and tingling, and headaches will start to occur. These will all be secondary conditions due to a structural shift of the spine. The prolonged “text-neck” position will eventually cause your spine to shift from its normal structural alignment and a cascade of problems will begin to occur.
4 ways to prevent “text-neck”
1. Hold your phone at the proper reading angle. Your phone should be held directly in front of your mouth and a few inches from your chin. Your eyes should look down, rather than bending your neck down to look at your phone.
2. Take regular breaks. Avoid prolonged phone use by taking regular breaks where you put your phone down and do something else.
3. Build strength and do range of motion exercises. In your workout routine, include exercises that strengthen and stretch your neck, back extensors, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles.
4. Seek chiropractic care. A chiropractor that focuses on structural correction will be able to identify if structural shifts of your spine have occurred. They are trained in correcting your spine back towards a normal and stable position.
What if I already am experiencing pain and tightness?
If you are already experiencing the pain and tightness in your neck, it is important to get examined by a chiropractor. A chiropractor will be able to identify if your spine has shifted from its normal structural alignment. The sooner that you get the alignment corrected, the less long-term effects you will have. Remember a prolonged shift from normal alignment of your spine will lead to spinal decay and degeneration. The spinal degeneration cannot be reversed. You can prevent spinal degeneration but you cannot get rid of it.