Whether you agree with experts that consider it an outright epidemic or those that deem it a somewhat overhyped ailment, text neck syndrome is indeed a pain in the neck for many of you. It’s why you have searched for treatment for it today. What is text neck exactly?
By definition, the moniker is one used to illustrate the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at wireless mobile devices too frequently and for too long. It is reported that up to 60 pounds of pressure is placed upon your neck when your head is positioned to look down at a mobile device being held in your hands. Inflammation of the neck ligaments, nerve irritation, and increased curvature in the spine can all result, and the pain and damage can range from nuisance to much worse for some, making both common daily tasks and more strenuous physical activities a chore. With the Canadian population adoption of mobile devices only growing with each passing year (and product release) text neck is not expected to become a thing of the past any time soon. Knowing this, our Greater Vancouver physiotherapy clinic is here with some advice on how to mitigate the potential for this common millennial ailment.
5 Practical Tips to Preventing Text Neck Syndrome
1. Knowing the Symptoms
The most important step you can take to prevent text neck syndrome from becoming a chronic issue in your life, is to identify it. By knowing the symptoms, you can take immediate corrective action. Below is a list of common text neck symptoms:
- Upper back and/or neck pain that begins and/or significantly increases from the moment you hold and look at your smartphone/tablet.
- Persistent and/or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders.
- Periodic or constant headaches that worsen when looking down at your mobile device.
- Jaw pain.
- Other symptoms such as eye pain and dizziness.
It’s important to note that while it’s good to recognize that you may be experiencing text neck, you should not self-diagnose. By writing a physical ailment off as the result of one activity, you may be neglecting a deeper underlying problem. If you exhibit a combination of any of the above, certainly follow the best-practices laid out below, but first contact a physiotherapy clinic with a chiropractor near you to receive an assessment.
2. Pre-Text Warm Up
You’re on board for warming up before playing sports to avoid injury, but should you really do the same before…texting? Before you balk at the idea, consider how many hours a day you spend looking at your phone/tablet to check email, manage texts, update social media, read eBooks, play games, search for information online, shop, and more. Chances are, you’re spending more time on this activity than you are playing tennis, golf, jogging, or whatever else it is that you do to keep active throughout the week. Therefore, a little “pregame” warmup (and cool down) makes a lot more sense that you initially thought.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to unroll the yoga mat every time you need to confirm a 12:30 lunch meeting with the gang, but you should get into the habit of running through a brief but effective daily regime to protect your neck. This includes chin tucks, tilt back neck stretches, head tilts, neck rolls, shoulder blade squeezes, standing resistance band rows, and using a foam roller on your mid to upper back. Simply get into the habit of performing these (and other) exercises/stretches upon awaking, around midday, and again at night, and you’ll be on the way to alleviating text neck pain and stiffness.
3. Take Breaks
Give it a rest. Seriously. Generations before yours survived just fine without mobile devices so you can at least take mini-breaks throughout the day, especially when you don’t absolutely need to stare down at your smartphone. For example, do you have the habit of endlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed while in line at Starbucks? Look up and read the menu board or start a conversation with someone in line instead. Do you sit on the sofa at the end of the day with your iPad in hand watching Netflix? Keep your head up and watch TV like you used to as an alternative. Do you text while working out at the fitness center? Tuck your phone away in the bag/backpack and keep your body occupied with gym equipment. Examples of mobile device overuse are boundless, and by stopping these daily behaviors right away, you give your neck muscles a much needed break.
4. Proper Form
Just like you need to follow proper form in the gym, while driving, or when participating in a sport, you need to remain just as mindful when texting and using your mobile devices. These texting (etc.) best practices include the following:
- Raise your mobile device to eye level so that your head doesn’t tilt and strain your neck.
- Standup straight and maintain good posture, with your shoulders pulled back, while keeping your body aligned in a neutral position.
- If you are in the middle of a long texting/email exchange or are taking extensive notes, be sure to arch your neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle strain.
- Use both hands to text/write/navigate to maintain proper side to side balance.
- Text, type, and tap in a calm manner, especially when engaging in a stressful exchange. Tapping away too quickly when dealing with a stressful situation can inflate anxiety and accentuate poor form which can exponentially increase the potential for neck pain and strain.
5. CALL to Consult with a Physiotherapist
Returning to the point that concluded item #1 above, there is without a doubt no better way to diagnose and treat text pain than by consulting with a physiotherapy clinic that offers professional chiropractic neck pain services, in addition to a variety of other offerings that can effectively treat the ailment discussed here today. Treatments can include (but are not exclusive to) the following:
- Joint mobilization exercises
- Posture correction exercises
- Neck stabilisation exercises
- K-taping techniques
- Soft tissue massage
- Acupuncture and IMS Dry Needling
- More (view services)
If you reside in the Burnaby or Greater Vancouver BC area we encourage you to call (not text) Absolute PhysioCare to schedule your consultation.
Some additional text-centric articles from our clinic you may be interested in: