Looking down at your phones constantly puts pressure on your neck and spine, and isn’t good for your health. According to pain management doctors and spine surgeons, it is like having a 60-pounds of extra weight on your cervical spine.
People are so dependent on their phones these days that they easily forget to keep track of their posture. Research says 77% of the world’s population has their own mobile phones. Another study says 79% of the population between the age of 18 – 44 years keep their mobile phones with them almost all the time.
The problem seems increasingly common nowadays. It’s largely concerning because it might cause permanent damage to the cervical spine and may lead to lifelong neck pain.
Here’s what some experts had to say about this condition. Find out how it impacts your spine, and how you can aim to reduce its effects by improving your posture.
What is Text Neck Syndrome?
Text neck is a term used to describe the pain caused by looking down at your cell phones for too long. It usually strains your neck muscles and causes tightness. It can also cause nerve pain that goes down to your shoulders and arms.
Dr. Jason Queiros, a chiropractor at Norwalk Sports and Spine says that text neck is very real, not due to texting or scrolling on smartphones, but because of technology as a whole.
Moving your head forward or putting that amount of force on your neck is not at all good for health. Dr. Ken Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, developed a digital image detailing the condition. According to him, the average person spends 2 – 4 hours a day in this position.
The long term effects could include herniated disc, tension headaches, and neck sprains (similar to whiplash injury). Research says cell phone usage increases the severity of neck pain.
Though it’s not possible to avoid looking down at your phones completely, there are techniques that can help counter the problems.
How to Reduce Text Neck Effects?
Experts weigh down on having a good posture for optimal health. According to Dr. Hansraj, a good posture is having your ears aligned with the shoulders, while your shoulder blades back.
A good posture lowers your body stress and decreases cortisol (a stress hormone). On the other hand, a bad posture stresses the spine and can lead to early wear and tear generation, and maybe spinal surgery.
Moreover, good posture also reduces breathing problems because it allows the rib cage to fully expand.
Also Read: 6 Positive Ways To Help You Sleep Better
Exercises to Combat Text Neck:
1. Chest Opening: Clasp your hands behind your head and open your elbows out to the sides. Try to squeeze your back with the shoulder blades. Feel your chest stretching out. Hold the position for around 10 seconds and gently release it.
2. Spine Decompressing: Sit towards the edge of your seat with your legs spread wide. Hang your arms lose at your sides and sit straight in a neutral position. Push your head back over your shoulders. Take about 10 deep breaths. Relax and repeat the process again.
3. Cat-Cow Stretch: Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Align your wrist under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Keep your spine straight and gaze outwards. Begin moving into a cow pose by dropping your belly towards the floor as you inhale. Next, move into cat pose by drawing your back towards the ceiling as you exhale. Gaze towards your navel while you’re in cat pose. Repeat 10 – 15 times and then relax.
Note: If you have neck or spinal injury, make sure to check with your doctor before doing any of these exercises. Also, make sure that these movements are suitable for your conditions.
Common Mistakes and Precautions:
- Avoid holding your phone in close to your chest or belly. This way you can prevent your neck from excessive stress.
- Hold your phone at eye level as much as you can. The same applies to laptops and tablets.
- Gently remind yourself to take frequent breaks from your screens throughout the day.
- If you’re at work, make sure your screen is set up so you don’t have to bend your head while looking at it.
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Hello reader, I’m Abhishek Shankhwar, a passionate health enthusiast and a digital marketer by profession. As a health and wellness writer, I feel obligated to inform, inspire, and reach out to so many people. In the meantime, you’ll always find me reading books, writing inspiring content, and cooking delicious food. Connect with me on LinkedIn.