On average, the human head weighs between 10 to 12 pounds. Proper posture ensures the weight is evenly distributed at the top of the spine. With the advent of technology and mobile devices, we find ourselves with a posture epidemic. One that has shifted the alignment in such a way that has created a set of symptoms we now call “text neck.” As our head moves forward and leans down it increases the strain of the weight of our head on the rest of our body. Thus creating a domino effect of pain and discomfort as our body compensates for this change in posture.
What we may not realize is that hunching even slightly to look at our mobile device increases the strain our body must bear. For example, looking down only at a 15 degree angle increases the strain on our neck by 27 pounds. Likewise, based on the picture above, a 30 degree angle strains the neck with 40 pounds, and so on. Because we are so accustomed to this poor posture, it may be difficult to imagine what this strain feels like. To help, we give our patients a 10 pound ball to hold with their elbow resting on a table. As they move the weighted ball forward it becomes increasingly difficult to hold it. Eventually, they are unable to any longer.
The point is this, we are creating undo stress on our neck, spine, and muscles. This stress creates compression between the vertebrae which then leads to chronic neck and shoulder pain, in addition to headaches. Because of the trends in technology, many people do not even realize the cause of these symptoms. The good news is that we have the power to correct text neck with a few simple exercises and being more mindful of what we are doing.
First, pay attention to where you are holding your device. Raise it up so you are looking straight at it versus down. If you are looking at a laptop or desktop, do what you can to prevent yourself from looking down at it. Adjust the height of your chair or table. To help relieve the stain on your neck and shoulders you can also do this simple exercise of squeezing your shoulder blades together. You can also work on keeping your ears over your shoulders as much as possible throughout the day, too. Text neck is also treated by a chiropractor and massage therapist, as well. Regular visits to both will help to keep your body in alignment, improve posture, and eliminate any pain you might be experiencing.
Technology will always be a part of our world. Rather than modifying our body to suit technology, we must make technology modify to suit us. If we don’t our body will let us know with symptoms of pain and discomfort.