Is your phone slowly hurting your spine?
According to Spinal Surgeon Dr. Daniel Riew, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at CUMC, the answer is yes.
When you are bending your head forward and downward to look at your phone or computer, you put excessive stress on the muscles behind your neck. They contract to support your head. When you spend hours like this every day, eventually there will be long term damage.
The Chiropractors Association of Saskatchewan, Canada is reporting a rise in patients reporting pain in their necks, backs, and spines. They associate this pain with the increased use of digital devices. The condition has been dubbed “tech neck” or “text neck”, variously.
Canadians spend nearly three hours a day on their phones reading, texting, watching videos, searching the web, playing games, checking emails, or reading. This is according to eMarketer.
Text neck is a spine ailment caused by long hours of cell phone use which puts a strain on the spine and neck. It is not just cell phones but also tablets, desktop computers, laptops, and gaming devices.
Text neck is not something that happens overnight. It is a subtle everyday change, with a long term cell phone or computer use with poor posture that ultimately leads to developing the “text neck.”
The poor posture we adopt while looking down on our phones exposes our necks to wear and tear because of too much stress. It is common to see forward head posture from long term development from poor posture.
Text neck is not that hard to avoid. Talk to us, your neck pain chiropractors, and we can advise you further on ‘text neck’ and other stretches that can help you to avoid it.
The average human head weighs between 10-12 lbs. To bend your neck to a 60% angle (which is what cell phone users generally do) puts more weight on your neck. It is common to see forward head posture that leads to a head weight of 40-60lbs!
Imagine holding 40-60lbs of weight all the time plus you are bending your neck to use your phone! This is what your neck goes through every day. It stresses both your neck and your upper back. Gravity transfers some of the weight to your neck. You may not be able to do without a cell phone but you can be careful to adopt a better posture while using your phone.
How to Prevent Text Neck
Perform some stretching exercises for your back and neck. It should not take more than a couple of minutes a day and it is totally worth it. Stretching helps to prevent nerve damage.
Find excuses to move around throughout the day. You might want to walk over to a colleague’s desk instead of calling or shooting an email. Take a short walk during your lunch break, and consider walking to work, where possible.
For people who already present with neck pain, aerobic exercise like running or swimming would be more effective, in addition to chiropractic care.
This kind of rigorous exercise stimulates tired muscles, sending oxygenated blood towards them and speeding up healing.
Don’t slouch. Keep your phone eye-level so that you don’t have to bend your neck so much. Avoid using your phone or tablet for too long. Give yourself a break after every hour of screen time. It is even better if you can spend that time on your feet.
Arrange your desktop in a way that allows you to look up at your devices. Visit our Chiropractors who will help you to see that your spine remains healthy. Chiropractors offer holistic care for optimal spine function.
Consider getting a standing desk. Time spent on your feet is better for your spine than time spent sitting on a desk and slouching. Don’t ignore pain. Talk to one of our chiropractors about any pain in your body. This prevents mild conditions from escalating.
Stretches for a Healthy Neck
Stretch your neck by turning it downwards in the direction of your chest and then upwards in the direction of your ceiling
Turn your head to one side. Look over your shoulder and then slowly turn it in the opposite direction
Rotate your shoulders clockwise and then anticlockwise; keeping your arms by your sides
Symptoms of Text Neck
We are seeing more and more patients turning up with back pain, creaky shoulders, headaches, misaligned spines, and neck pain. You might witness pain in the middle of your shoulder blades too. Discs might even wear out and rupture.
We advise you to seek a neck pain chiropractor early to keep it from getting worse. Neck strain can escalate to spinal damage, nerve damage, as well as muscle and tendon damage when it is ignored. It may also result in arthritis.
The surrounding tissues around the neck can become inflamed as a result of the text neck, and long term, even permanent spinal damage is possible.
Treatment of Text Neck
Digital devices will remain with us for the foreseeable future, and so will tech neck. People who are already suffering from tech neck should start stretching and exercising. They should also see our chiropractors who will offer effective treatment and professional advice. It is important to seek help earlier rather than later.
How to Sit (It’s not what you think)
You have probably been told to sit up straight when you are on your desk. According to Dr. Riew, this advice is all wrong. He argues that sitting with your back straight stresses your lower back discs and forces your neck muscles to contract in order to support your head. Sitting up for hours in this way may result in pain in both the neck and head.
Instead, you might want to recline at around 25%, use a good lumbar support that will keep you from slouching. This protects the back and neck discs from excessive force. Your neck muscles don’t have to contract to support your head, either.
Leaning back places your body weight on your chair instead of your spine. This protects your spine from too much force and injuries. This might be why we naturally relax by reclining.
At our office, Dr. Jenna or Lisa Kim will evaluate your whole spine to identify the cause and support you in getting the appropriate treatment. If you have any questions about how our team at Vitalpoint Chiropractic - your chiropractors for neck pain- can help you, please schedule a consultation today, we’d love to see you!