When you have the whole world in the palm of your hand, it’s hard not to keep looking down. The lure of the instant gratification that comes with texting, swiping, tapping and so on is hard to resist. However, constantly staring down at your phone isn’t just something that will have you labelled an anti-social in the real world, it’s also disastrous for your health. Apart from being quite painful in itself, neck pain from cell phone use can turn into various other complex and severe conditions. So much so that this phenomenon has actually been coined into a term- Text Neck Syndrome. So, what is it exactly?
Text Neck Syndrome
Also known as smartphone neck syndrome, this modern day term refers to the repeated stress injury that occurs on your neck when you stare down at your device for too long and too frequently. When you tilt your head forward to use your phone – be it to text, view videos, browse, etc – it places an immense amount of pressure and weight on the neck. This can make you susceptible to neck, shoulder, spine, and thoracic problems.
How do I know if I have text neck syndrome?
- A stiff neck: When you try to move your neck after a prolonged phone session, your neck is likely to feel sore and stiff. You may even experience difficulty turning it in certain directions.
- Pain: This syndrome might give you different types of neck pain. Chronic neck pain that just does not seem to go away can be one indicator. You may also experience radiating pain that spreads to your arms and shoulders or localised pain on the lower neck.
- Muscle weakness: A bent neck posture can affect the integrity of your muscles, specifically the rhomboids, external rotators, and trapezius muscles.
- Headaches: You may also experience tension headaches because of the pressure on your neck.
While these symptoms sound harmless, ignoring neck pain due to texting for prolonged periods may lead the situation to worsen. Think about placing weights on a plywood plank. With enough pressure, your plank is bound to stay bent even after you remove the weights. That is what can happen to your body too. If left unchecked, neck and shoulder pain from texting can grow into:
- Disc compression
- Loss of lung capacity
- Early onset arthritis
- Spinal degeneration
- Muscle weakness
Should you become a social pariah?
Of course not! The trick is to create a balance that allows you to text people while taking enough breaks for the sake of your neck. No, taking a break from texting to read a book does not count as a break. You must change your posture to allow your neck to snap back into place, so to speak.
Another essential thing to note is that you must avoid repetitive movements like prolonged typing or swiping. If you must use your smartphone for a long time, use a table or desk so that the position eases the pressure on your spine and neck.
Are there any text neck stretches that help?
Yes.. Devote some time to doing neck stretches for neck pain. Here are some exercises to start off with:
- Trapezius Neck Stretch: Place your palm on your head and tilt your neck from side to side. This will help loosen the muscle and alleviate some of the pain.
- Levator Neck Stretch: Place your palm on the back of your head and tilt your head towards your armpit. This stretch great for any tightness you may feel on your neck or shoulders.
- Chin Tuck: Keep your head in a neutral position. Then, stretch it forward and backward.
Lastly, text neck syndrome is more of a lifestyle syndrome than a debilitating disease. So do not panic if you identified any of the symptoms listed above as your own. You can manage and control the situation with ease!