What is text neck?
Have you ever had a sore neck? Who hasn’t had neck pain? One of the most commons problems that we have seen lately is what some call ‘text neck’. This is a condition that is caused by spending too much time looking straight down when sending text messages. Actually, we have seen that condition occurring for many years as text neck does not occur only from texting. For years, we’ve all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down more than in the past. Of course, occupational conditions have been around for a long time where people have flexed their necks downward with resulting neck pain. There is nothing wrong with bending our necks in a downward manner; in fact, our necks were designed to accommodate the forward bending. The problem with text-neck is the same problem as any other prolonged position. We are meant to move. If you hold your head in ANY position for prolonged periods it is likely that you will cause some muscular tightness and resulting neck pain.
Some symptoms associated with text neck are tension headaches, restricted neck movement, upper back, shoulder and neck pain.
How do you eliminate neck pain due to text neck?
Obviously, prevention is the first step. If you could hold your phone at eye level when texting, that would be a big help. When reading while sitting on the sofa, try placing a pillow on your lap to hold the book at a higher level. It is also important to practice good office and computer ergonomics. The less you have your head locked in any position, the less stress is placed on the neck. It has been determined that for every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional ten pounds.
Relief from the tight muscles would include stretches and exercises to help strengthen neck and back muscles. These exercises can help mitigate some of the effects of text neck such as limited neck motion, neck pain and headaches. Actually, general movement is a great help; move your head every few minutes when you are doing computer work, texting or reading a book. Movement is what keeps your muscles flexible; move your head up, down, left, right. When reading or sitting at a desk for an extended period, it helps to get up, walk away and get some movement to keep your muscles active and relaxed.
From a therapeutic prospective, massage therapists would work on the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders to relieve the tension and relax the affected muscles. When a body part is locked in a position for an extended time, the muscles tend to get locked in a shortened position. Then when those muscles are called on to do some work, they will complain loudly. Massage therapy, gentle stretching and relaxation are excellent tools to help eliminate the problems with text neck and neck pain. As massage therapists, we see this condition every day and fortunately, have great success providing relief from this condition.