Text Neck: The Tech Trendy Injury
People are spending more time leaning forward, paying attention to what’s in front of them, instead of having their posture upright and looking at the world around them”
–Linda Scholl, University of Utah
Mobile devices are indispensable in our tech age; they have become an appendage to the average individual living in the digital world. While technology may be a boon for modern convenience, it comes with the price of ‘craning over’ for too long. According to data compiled by an Android app -Locket, an average person checks their device about 110 times a day. Hunching over hand- held devices too often and for lengthy periods is a leeway for developing ‘Text Neck’.
‘Text Neck’ is an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury sustained from having the head hung forward and looking down at mobile electronic devices for an extended period of time (iPosture).
‘iPosture’ is typically the “hunch over” posture responsible for the recent alarming increase in neck, shoulder and upper back pain complaints especially in young adults who are a larger population of hand-held device users.
The human head represents 8% of the total body mass. As the head moves forward from neutral position, the centre of gravity changes, increasing the pressure on the muscles of the neck and over stretching the ligaments that hold the cervical vertebrae together. Over stretched ligaments can become weak and sprained or cause strained muscles in the neck and upper back.
Constantly adopting the ‘iPosture’ takes its toll on the integrity of the natural curve of the neck, ligaments, tendons, muscles and bony segments of the cervical spine. Text neck is a risk factor for early wear and tear of the spine, degenerative arthritis, herniated or bulging discs, nerve compression, reduced lung capacity, gastrointestinal problems and heart conditions.
Symptoms of Text Neck may include:
- Chronic headaches
- Soreness in the Neck
- Upper back pain
- Pain and tightness (muscle spasm) across the shoulders
- Pain in the arms, elbow, hand and fingers
- Burning and tingling sensation down the arms
Clearly, the tech age has come to stay. The most realistic way to prevent ‘Text Neck’ is to practice safe texting. It is important to pay attention to posture and make sure the head is held in a neutral position while operating a hand-held device.
Here are some safe texting tips:
- Heads up: Devices ought to be held up to eye level, better still the act of looking down at a device should be done with the eyes and not the head.
- Take a break: Taking regular breaks throughout the day, from mobile devices are a ‘spine saver’.
- Stretch: Simple exercises such as gently squeezing the shoulder blades together and stretching the neck in the opposite direction to the ‘iPosture’ can help take pressure off the shoulders, neck and back.
- Roll it: Roll or shrug shoulders and move the neck in different directions to prevent muscles tightness.
- Retract and Strengthen: Chin retraction exercises which involve pulling the chin back into the neck and neck strengthening exercises have been found to be beneficial for preventing text neck.
Hopefully, this article was not read in an ‘iPosture’. In the event that neck pain is unrelieved by rest and postural adjustment, thorough evaluation and medical care should be sought.