As a blogger I spend more than 4 hours a day on my mobile and another 3 on my computer six days a week and this has resulted in some really painful effects to my body. In this post we will look at one of those effects which is called text neck. This has caused me neck soreness,headaches,severe back pain, dizziness , shoulder pain and possible injury to my spine all from spending too much time on my digital devices. The same has been happening to millions of young and old people around the world but there are solutions.
Just over two years ago I started to experience stiffness in my neck and headaches I visited the doctor because it was affecting me at my job. After doing a few checks he said it may be stress and told me to rest and drink some pain medication. I did so for a week and the pain was gone but just after 3 days going back to my daily blogging with my cellphone my headaches started again it got so bad that I started feeling a stabbing pain down my spine so I decided to visit a chiropractor. This was when I heard the term text neck for the first time. After a few therapy sessions , some practical advice from my chiropractor and spending quite a few bucks I was feeling much better . But my thinking was this discomfort will surely return because of the amount of time I spend on my phone and laptop . So I decided to do some research to help solve this problem permanently along with some advice from my doctor but before I go into details let me first define text neck for those who don’t know .
Text neck is an aliment that has been around before the first cell phone it’s a modern term for forward head posture, attributed to all those persons who spend hours of the day with their neck in an arch position looking at their digital device .
Text neck practically relates to the pain we experience at the back of our neck ,upper back, lower back and shoulder; this discomfort would usually result in chronic headaches and stiffness in the neck .
- Neck pain the diagram above shows where I was experiencing most of my neck pain , as you can see this muscle(trapezius muscle) is connected to the head and from constant leaning forward those two muscles felt sore every day .
- Chronic headaches, of all the symptoms headaches were the worst they would usually start after the persistent pain at the back of my neck ,and can range from mild to severe sometimes last from 1 hour to 24 hours even though I drank pain meds. Research has shown that that once the upper trapezius is strained it becomes a trigger point for headaches
- Shoulder and upper back pain is another effect of text neck the diagram below shows(green dots) where I felt most my neck and shoulder pain.
- Pinched nerve this happened once, the pain was so severe I think I cried . When it happened I was typing a text message to a friend I felt it in my shoulder i had to seek medical attention immediately . I learnt that day that the pinched nerve occurs when you are in a stationary position for a long period and the nerves becomes pressed by your ligaments or tendons .
- Early Arthritis when our shoulder, neck and back muscles have to hold our head weight as it moves forward it creates muscular imbalance which in turn cause stress on your disc and bones resulting in arthritis at an earlier age
- Respiratory problem research has shown that persons with neck problem can have decreased respiratory muscle strength.The journal of geriatrics came out with a study in 2004 and stated that the more we hunchback we are closer to death , as we lean forward we are closing down most of our pathway which allows us to breathe . You also get a closing effect from your ribs thus the amount of oxygen that’s suppose to be getting into your lungs is diminished
- Dizziness forward head posture also affects our equilibrium which results in dizziness because of the amount of stress we are placing on the nervous system .
- Dowager hump or Camel hump this can be developed as a result of constant forward bending which causes the thoracic vertebrae to develop a curve which looks like a hump at the back of your neck or upper back.
1. Strengthen your neck
My number one advice is to strengthen your neck , human have very weak neck muscles which does not allow us to maintain our head weight as it moves forward or backward . The average human head weighs 5 lbs but for every inch we move our head forward 10lb of weight added to our neck . So by strengthening our neck muscles we can reduce the strain we feel when we lean our head forward to type on a computer or to play a game of Candy Crush. Just ask a wrestler , football player or a jet pilot how important neck strength is ,they need to strengthen their necks to reduce impact to the head or brain when there is a sudden force applied to the body.
Here are some text neck exercise you can do :
- Chin tuck I learned this from my chiropractor you can do 30 sets and 3 reps a few times a day watch video
- Neck sit up and reverse neck sit up this I also learnt from my chiropractor but some how I never liked this exercise because it felt like my blood was rushing to my head watch video
- Use a neck restorer during that period of my ailment I also did some research and I found this device (Neck Curve Restorer) it was heaven sent , the reason I bought this product was to really strengthen your neck to prevent future injuries you need resistance because the above exercises were just too mild.
You can watch this promo video of how it works. The device cost about US$80 it is kind of pricey but what I liked is that it provides proper form when going through your reps . But I must say before I bought this device I used a Flat Stretch Bands you may have them lying around the house just use them to perform neck extension and rotations these three videos will show you how 1 ,2 and 3. The disadvantage of using the Flat Stretch Band is that I was not always able to perform the exercises in the correct form but it did work 70% of the time.
- There are a few texting neck exercise and stretches app for Android check the Play Store.
2. Strengthen your back and shoulders
Dumbbell shrugs this is a great exercise to strengthen your trapezius I usually do 15 reps of 3 set two time a week using a 10lb dumbbell (dumbbell shrug guide ) you can go lighter if you wish.
Standing dumbbell upright row another great exercise which strengthens your traps but for this one you should start with light dumbbell because you can loose form with heavy ones and cause injury to your shoulders (Standing Dumbbell Upright Row Guide)
Pull up this allows you to strengthen your back and shoulder muscles by using your body weight.
3. Download a text neck app
There are a few apps which can help you to keep your head at the right angle to prevent texting neck for Android phones . Those persons with Iphones which cannot get the app the correct way to use your cell phone or tablet is to ensure your neck is at a straight angle and the top of your cell phone is to your eye level. lf you do some research on text neck you would see they recommend an app call TEXT NECK INDICATOR LTE but I have tried it and I found it drains my battery and it’s not that accurate so I installed another app called HEADUP protect your neck it is much more detailed , it has a spine pressure indicator which can tell you how much weight in kg is pressuring your neck and spine ,it also gives you stats on how much you have used your cell for the day , what angle your neck is at and other fun facts. The diagram below shows what the app looks like ,the orange movable icon indicates when your neck is at a bad angle and your phone would vibrate. When using the app people around may think you are taking a photo but that shouldn’t matter to you because your health is more important. For the person who have and Iphone th
4. Improve your posture
Posture plays an important part in looking after our spine . To keep our spine strong we need to keep fit and posture is very important in doing so . Poor posture can lead to unnecessary strain on the muscles, bones , joints and ligaments. Developing great posture takes a lot of practice it cannot be done overnight you have to do it regularly and it will become an unconscious process. Also trying to improve your posture makes your body feel weird and uncomfortable but you need to stick to it. For the persons who find it difficult to maintain posture can use the posture brace ,
Some Doctor also would use Kinesiology Tape on your back and shoulders which helps to keep your back straight .
Youtube has lots of videos on improving posture you can also read the article at https://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Posture .
- Stop what you are doing and do some stretching this will help to reduce the tension , perform stretches that targets the affected muscles check it out STRETCHES
- If you find the pain is overbearing rest for an hour or more if you can, this worked great for me . I would lie on a bed using a comfortable pillow .Do not lie on a sofa with your head on the sofa arm this will make the pain worst ,you should lie flat .
- Perform some physical activities this worked for me it increases the blood flow to your neck back and shoulders easing your pain I would usually do some shoulder shrugs and skipping after about 10 minute I would feel that the pain has gone.
- Use a pain relief rub to reduce muscle tension I usually use tiger balm but there are many other products that work well.
- Massage your aches and pain away an expert masseuse can get rid of the pain in your neck very easily or you can just buy a massaging device . For your neck you can do a self massage .
- Drink anti inflammatory painkillers
- There is a great device called cervical neck traction my friends swears by it so I borrow his and tried it did take away my pain and I guess it would have the an advantage if you cannot get someone to give you a massage , or you are at your office and cannot rest.
You can try the Zensufu Back Pain Relief Acupressure Massage Mat . My wife bought this mat when she experienced severe back pain I personally tried it to write a review and I can say it’s an excellent product ,it is some what uncomfortable to lay on but it works just check the ratings on Amazon.
- Avoid activities which your will encourage you to look down for more than 1 -2 minutes such as ironing or washing dishing.
- Visit the doctor because sometimes the problem may be more severe than you think.
Rehabilitation from text neck takes time so don’t expect overnight results, once you stick to the regiment and you will see success overtime.Avoid any work that will affect your neck such standing and ironing or washing the dishing.