Dear OWH: Is being on my phone hurting my neck?

In a time when our phones can be used for almost every form of communication, people find themselves on it a significant part of the day and it’s contributing to poor posture and pain. Text neck is a real thing.

6 min read

We know that prolonged hours sitting at a computer can significantly contribute to the development of Upper Crossed Syndrome. However, the constant use of smart phones to text, check emails, and scroll through Instagram and Facebook can also greatly contribute to the development of another related disorder. With symptoms like postural dysfunction and chronic neck pain, Text Neck, as it has come to be known, is definitely a disorder worth noting.

Pressure and Damage Caused by Text Neck

Do you remember the “10 pounds for every inch” business we described in our previous post? In case you missed it, this is the idea that, with each inch your head tilts forward, you add an additional 10 pounds of pressure to the vertebrae of the neck and upper back. Tilt your head just 15 degrees, you add about 27 pounds of pressure. 30 degrees? 40 pounds. By the time you get to 45 to 60 degrees of flexion (the “sweet spot” for most cell phone users), you have now placed an additional 50 to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck and spine!

Over time, the extra pressure creates a strain on the neck. This has the potential to lead to degenerative joint disorders, herniated disks, bone spurs, pinched nerves, and chronic muscle tension and headaches. It’s a slow, sneaky progression, making it particularly dangerous. Issues resulting from Text Neck can go completely unnoticed and undiagnosed for quite some time. So long in fact that, by the time you realize you have a problem, the damage could already be done. This is why it is of utmost importance that you start focusing on your posture now instead of always putting it off until tomorrow.

How Can I Avoid Text Neck?

Lift your phone, avoid flexing your neck, and do all you can to achieve and maintain optimal posture. To figure out what that looks and feels like for you, aim the crown point of your head (located by drawing a line straight up from the upper most point of your ear to the top of the head) straight up to the sky and draw your chin straight back towards the neck (don’t tilt or lift it). When you use your phone, maintain the posture pictured on the right. Resist the temptation to bring your eyes and chin down. Instead, relax those shoulders and bring your phone to eye level.

Need Some Extra Help?

If this is all a little too confusing or overwhelming for you or you are experiencing neck and shoulder pain that you have not been able to address on your own, give us a call! We will get you set up for an appointment with one of our doctors or therapists. A session could include massage, acupuncture, and/or a chiropractic adjustment to relieve pain and tension, enabling your body to achieve a better posture.

After alleviating pain, we will also design a treatment plan that might include one-on-one Pilates or GrYOTONIC based exercise sessions. These sessions are aimed to strengthen the specific muscles necessary for perfect posture allowing you to overcome your pain and keep it at bay for good.

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