We all love our smart phones, some of us (like me) are completely addicted to them. Not only can we manage our entire life with them, they are great for playing games and watching videos etc. Have you noticed the tension that builds up between your shoulders and up the back of your neck after playing with your phone for extended periods of time. Smart phones are a source of Neck Pain and Headaches. This is what chiropractors and researchers are calling "text neck". This is actually more than just a short term discomfort, it is a potential source of long term problems, some of which can be very severe requiring surgery to treat.
Chiropractors see with almost every client flattening or reversing of the neck curve and they treat the problems that arise from this posture. I personally advise almost every client to stretch the neck and to work on their neck posture.
Neck Pain and Headaches caused by Mobile Phone use.
A recent study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD Chief of spine surgery, New York spine surgery and rehabilitation medicine New York states that the human head weighs approximately 5.5kg. Full Article But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 12kg, at 30 degrees it’s 18kg, at 45 degrees it’s 22kg, and at 60 degrees it’s 27kg. That's the equivalent of carrying 3 cartons of beer with your neck and shoulders.
Seems extreme doesn't it?
This is potentially a huge problem. Just have a look next time you are out and about at how many people are constantly staring at their phones, notice how much time you spend in that position. If you work all day on the computer and then play with your phone you are a very high risk category and will develop problems. This is incredibly important for children as they are developing their postural habits.
Forward head posture is linked with many spinal problems such as:
- Neck Pain (reference)
- Headaches & Migraines (reference)
- Disc Injuries
- Elevated Blood Pressure (article, reference)
- Breathing problems (reference)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Shoulder problems
- Your mood and self worth - Amy Cuddy and associates showed that high-power posture posers experienced elevations in testosterone, increases in serotonin, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk taking. Low-power posture posers exhibited the opposite pattern. Poor posture invariably occurs with the head in a tilted forward position and the shoulders drooping forward in a rounded position. (reference, reference. reference)
- Ligament injuries
How can we treat / prevent these problems?
- Watch your posture - the best prevention is to minimize forward head posture by not using your phone in that position.
- Chiropractic Care and Remedial Massage Therapy.
- Exercise - Work the muscles between your shoulders and the back of your neck - rock climbing is fantastic, swimming, push ups etc.
- Stretch - Yoga is great, simply stretching the neck and shoulders back is a great thing you should do every single day. You can do this with a rolled up towel or a specific neck stretching device. See video below
- Regular breaks when using your computer. Every 30 mins get up and stretch.
- Make sure your kids backpacks are fitted correctly.