I couldn’t help but notice the kids at the bus stops this morning on my way to the office, each one of them holding their phones near their belly button with their heads sharply bent down to see the screen. This common posture has led to the emergence of a condition known as “text neck.”
What is Text Neck?
Text neck is the painful outcome of combining neck flexion with forward rolled shoulders. This specific posture causes the muscles on the side of the neck, called the scalenes, to compress. Unfortunately, the nerves that travel down the arms must pass through the scalenes to exit the neck, and they can get trapped when the muscles compress. Sitting, standing, or even propping your head up in bed while staring at your phone can lead to text neck.
The Importance of Proper Head Balance and Spinal Support
As demonstrated by the picture of the balancing rock, a heavy weight can be supported by a thin column if balanced correctly. Similarly, our 11-pound heads can balance on our necks with ease when properly aligned. If the weight is balanced over the spinal column, the neck muscles only need to contract occasionally to maintain the right position. The spine can act as a supportive column. However, when we look down to browse social media, the head loses support from the spine, and the neck muscles must bear the full weight, straining and bending like a fishing pole.
Symptoms of text neck
Symptoms vary depending on which muscles are affected first. Text neck can cause localized muscle pain in the neck or pain and tingling down the arm due to overworked muscles pinching the nerves (similar to sciatica). Even that headache you experience while reading about your relative’s political views could be due to the way you’re holding your head.
Pay attention to your posture when using your phone for extended periods. If you bend your head down while standing, try holding your phone up higher. If you lie down to surf the web, consider lying on your side to avoid the chin-on-chest pose. Simple adjustments in positioning can make a significant difference in preventing text neck.
Treatment Options and Seeking Professional Help
If you’re already experiencing symptoms of text neck, it’s crucial to seek professional help. A chiropractor can provide tailored treatment plans to alleviate pain and improve posture. Treatments may include spinal adjustments, targeted stretches, strengthening exercises, and ergonomic recommendations for your daily routine. Addressing text neck early can prevent long-term issues such as chronic pain, reduced mobility, and poor posture. Remember, it’s never too late to take control of your spinal health and embrace better habits for a pain-free and active lifestyle.
An old-fashioned approach
Since our children seem to be most prone to text neck, let’s revisit our grandparents’ strategy: gentle and consistent reminders to “Sit up straight!” and “Go outside and play!”
If you have any questions or are experiencing symptoms of text neck, feel free to contact me. If you’re near Norwalk, CT, and need an appointment to alleviate text neck or related issues, click the button below. Let’s prioritize your spinal health together!