Has using your device given you ‘text neck’?

‘Text neck’ maybe on the rise but what can be done to ease the strain?

Skeleton with red neck mark staring at smartphone screen

How long do you spend on your phone each day? Maybe you’re reading this article on your smartphone right now? The average smartphone user is spending two-to-four hours per day with their head in a downward and forward position, and ‘text neck’ is certainly on the rise.

The average head weighs between six and eight kilograms. However, as you angle your chin towards your chest, the effective weight gradually increases to the point where a 60-degree tilt of the neck can result in a three- or four-fold weight increase.

In a normal standing or sitting position all the curves of the neck and spine are in alignment, with the weight of the head supported by the natural curves of the spine. With the head in a downward position for long periods, structures in the neck are stretched, overloaded and squashed. Combined with a sedentary lifestyle, this can lead to excessive wear and tear that leads to symptoms including headache, neck pain, arm pain and even numbness.

A simple strategy to combat ‘text neck’ is to improve your posture. Try moving the phone towards eye level rather than tilting your neck downwards. Whilst not ideal, reducing the angle of your neck can significantly reduce the effective weight and load on neck structures. Frequent breaks between phone tasks can also help. Ensure that you look forwards at least every 10–15 minutes when using your phone. To prevent asymmetry, use two hands when texting, or try alternating hands. Using voice commands and voice-to-text can also reduce the amount of time spent looking downwards.

Stretching and general exercise can also combat ‘text neck’. When combined with other sitting postures throughout the day, such as using the computer, reading or watching television, there are large amounts of stress placed through the upper spine. Stand up frequently and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This simple stretch can alleviate stress and muscle pain. This exercise can be repeated as many times as practical throughout the day, but a good starting point is to do four-to-six squeezes every waking hour.

If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with ‘text neck’, then get assessed by your physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will be able to recommend a series of exercises to help strengthen your neck and upper back muscles. They will also come up with a comprehensive treatment plan to resolve your symptoms as quickly as possible, which may include joint mobilisations, soft tissue work and a range of exercises dependent on your symptoms. 

Jason Lee APAM
B. Physiotherapy
Malvern East Physiotherapy 

Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have simply send an email to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au

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    COMMENTS

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    13th Jun 2016
    10:06am
    If you have this condition it is your own fault. One does NOT have to bend their neck to look at a smartphone, iPad, laptop, book, or newspaper.
    vaticann
    13th Jun 2016
    10:06am
    My mother was constantly telling me "Get your nose out of that book". How did we manage all our lives reading books with our necks bent, writing and typing with our neck bent, working at the bench with our necks bent, and we didn't get "text neck". Surely the body is designed to do all these task without harm, or are physiotherapists trying to drum up business.....
    Anonymous
    13th Jun 2016
    11:06am
    Have a look who wrote the article.
    Aussie
    13th Jun 2016
    3:41pm
    Hi
    I use to sleep with a normal long pillow and wake up with stiff neck so I try to support my neck space between my neck and my head and decide to try the square Thai cotton pillow.
    I have to change my sleeping position and sleep on my side and on my back.
    Great results for me 100% happy neck, still try the old piloww some times and neck pain again so when back to the thai pillow
    Aussie
    13th Jun 2016
    3:46pm
    https://au.pinterest.com/ananyanee/triangle-pillow/

    Have a look at the pillow pictures on this site
    Heskwith
    13th Jun 2016
    9:58pm
    Thanks for this article, I am already aware of subtle muscle freezing of shoulder while looking at a laptop on a table, even when using a knee-chair. I would be in real trouble if I texted for any period at all.


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