- Neck and shoulder tension
- Lack of range of motion
- Tingling or numbness that travels down the arm
- Inability to take deep breaths
These symptoms are often caused by a repetitive strain injury commonly becoming known as Texter’s Neck. It occurs when you hold your neck in a position where it is tilted forward and flexed, such as when you’re using a handheld device like a smart phone. With the increasing use of these devices, people are spending as much as 2-3 hours a day with their necks in this position.
Normal posture should have your ears in line with your shoulders. This evenly distributes the forces through the natural curvature of the spine. The normal head weighs approximately 8-10lbs and, for every 10 degrees it is held forward from this position, up to 10lbs of extra force is being applied through the spine. That weight can add up quickly! Most texters hold their heads in 40-60 degrees of forward flexion, meaning that as much as 60lbs of extra force is being put on their spine – the equivalent of having a 7 year old child sitting on your neck for 2 hours every day!
The extra force being applied to the spine results in lengthened and weakened muscles in the neck. It can also cause tension on sensitive nerves that travel through your cervical spine. This results in headaches and poor support of your shoulder girdle, and holding your head in this position can also lead to early onset of arthritis. It is important to address this issue early as the population most at risk are young adolescents who tend to spend the most time on their phones, and students who tend to hold their heads in a similar position looking over their desks and books.
The neck needs regular breaks from this position to prevent injury. Here is how you can combat the effects of Texter’s Neck:
- Hold your device up to your face rather than looking down at it.
- Spend less time on your phone, or use it in shorter intervals.
- Exercise! If Yoga or Pilates is not something that you are up for, there are many simple postural training exercises that can be performed daily and will counter the forces that are being applied to your neck. Try Krystie’s exercise of the month – Wall Slides.
If performing this exercise or applying these tips does not help your symptoms, we are here for you and are ready to assess your particular problem to help get it sorted!
by Saba Chishti, PT