We live in a world where we have information that comes to us at the speed of a few buttons. A world of instant gratification. A world where we are looking down all the time. Have you heard of text neck? It is a real thing because we are constantly looking at our smartphones, tablets or even computers in the WRONG position. This can cause headaches, fatigue, tightness and soreness in the neck, shoulders and mid-back pain, problems with sleep, problems with asthma, radiating pain and numbness in the arms, problems with swallowing, and potentially much more.
So what is the cause of this?
Posture changes! When we hold our phones down in front of us it creates less of a curve and puts more pressure on our spines. Take a look at the pictures below:
When we hold our smartphone. Many of us can have up to a 60 degree curve in our neck from looking down. Our head is normally about the size of a bowling ball. When our posture is not correct, and our head shifts forward, this adds extra weight onto our spine, creating muscles pulled, bones to shift and the nervous system to be irritated.
The first picture depicts your neck in an x-ray and the degrees of spinal degeneration that could be caused because of this constant forward head posture. The picture on the left is what a persons neck should look like. There should be a forward curve with spaces between each disc. As you look from left to right, the x-rays become straighter and more compressed together. Some people that have severe text neck, have a reverse curve, where the curve is going back. In these cases, the people that have this will live in constant dis-ease. Dis-ease (not disease) is the when your body is not in a state of ease. Dis-ease will cause you pain, irritation, dysfunction, inflammation, and chronic fatigue.
When I evaluate someone, I will look at their posture, how they move, how their spine and body feel. Bad posture is one of the most common reasons why someone has neck pain, headaches, muscle tightness in the neck, shoulders and mid-back, or pain and numbness radiating down their arms. The curves in the spine are there for a reason, which is to absorb compression when we move. Much like a spring does. Think of a slinky, when you roll it down stairs, it falls one end over the other. However, when there is a kink in the slinky, it just kind of falls down stairs and doesn’t go end over end like it should. It is the same with your spine! When you have a “kink” in your neck, your spine does not absorb the compression of each step or movement like it should. Since the spine is the housing of the nervous system, this can affect your nervous system because of subluxation.
What is a subluxation? A chiropractic subluxation, simply put, is a bone out of misalignment that causes nerve irritation. It is a joint restriction, that causes reduced mobility, muscles to tighten or stretch, and nerves to stretch. It takes the weight of a dime to cause nerve irritation. When the nerve even gets a little bit of stretch or stress that could be enough to cause numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain.
The nervous system is the most important system of the body. It controls every function and action of your body. When the nervous system is unhealthy, the body is unhealthy. The area that is affected most from text neck is the lower cervical spine to the mid-thoracic spine. These areas are responsible for the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and inbetween the ribs. These areas also send nerve signals to the heart, lungs, and digestive system.
Chiropractic care helps to reduce nerve irritation and restore balance to the body. With regular chiropractic adjustments the body will have reduced pain, good posture, and reduced muscle tension.
What can you do to help reduce text neck?
There are many things that you can do in your everyday life to reduce text neck.
- You want to try to hold any handheld electronics directly in front of your face. Bring your phone to you, not you to the phone!
- Take frequent phone/electronic breaks.
- Get up and stretch/walk every 30-60 minutes.
- Have good ergonomics.
- Stretch and exercise! Below are some of my favorites.
- Regular chiropractic adjustments!
- There are text neck apps that can monitor your posture!
Stretches and exercises for text neck.
- Chin tucks
- Yoga, especially downward dog, forward bend, cat-cow, bow pose are all great posture poses.
- Slowly and gently roll head around.
- Pec stretching. This can be done a variety of ways. The easiest to to find a door frame and to put your arm on the door with elbow bent at 90 degrees and your hand pointing up. Then lean into the stretch. Line drawing of woman standing in doorway doing pectoral stretch exercise. SOURCE: Original art.
- Shoulder blade pinches. Pinching your shoulder blades together for a few seconds at a time.
If you have problems because of text neck or your child is starting to have problems, give us a call so we can get you in for an evaluation at 512-387-3308.