COVID-19 has brought forth many changes in our life – some positive, others negative. Between Netflix and video games, technology helped many of us get through this time. Unfortunately, the flip side to using technology more is that it has made us less mobile. We use our gadgets constantly throughout the day instead of doing physical activities. This is leading to health problems, including what is called ‘text neck’.
What are the ways to effectively deal with neck pain due to looking down at our smartphones? It starts with changing our daily habits. Huge life changes don’t need to happen overnight. You can start by including regular physical activities, such as stretching exercises in the morning, to counteract the impacts of text neck. It may also involve visiting a professional chiropractor or physician depending on the severity of your neck pain.
In the age of technology, let’s discuss in more detail the signs and symptoms of text neck. You will be able to take away actions strategies to deal with it and avoid neck pain altogether.
What Exactly Is Text Neck?
Text neck is a condition caused by tilting your head forward towards a computer screen or a mobile device for extended periods of time. It increases the weight that your neck bears, as the muscles and ligaments towards the front of the neck are compressed while those at the back are lengthened. This leads to muscle strain and muscle imbalances over time.
The human head is basically a heavy organ – on average, it weighs roughly 10 pounds. Every time you tilt your head forwards, you’re adding to the weight your neck is supporting.
Signs & Symptoms
- Eye pain
- Jaw pain
- Reduced mobility of the neck
- Hunched back and improper body posture
- Neck pain, specifically during flexion-based movements
5 Effective Ways To Deal With Text Neck
Dealing with text neck involves a combination of working on your physical self and practicing self-discipline. Our phones will always be there to tempt us. You don’t have to go cold turkey, but you may need to shift your lifestyle and routine if dealing with severe pain from text neck. Here are 5 effective ways to deal with this new health phenomenon.
- Keep Your Phone at Eye Level
Instead of keeping your phone down on your lap, use it while keeping it at your eye level. This helps you avoid having to hunch your back forward when using your device. Typically, this takes time to get used to. Many of us are in the habit of tilting our heads forward. Once you get past the initial phase, it can lead to a big difference, especially if you use your phone for long hours.
This doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, though. You can use tools, such as a mobile screen holder, which helps when your hands get tired holding the screen up so high. You can also use your gadget while resting your elbows on a surface, such as a table.
- Take Short Breaks
For a more thorough healing process, you can obviously visit a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor. Before doing that, consider adjusting your device usage by taking small breaks every 15-30 minutes. This can go a long way to reduce the strain in the back of your neck.
You can set alarms on your phone, or install apps, to remind yourself to take these breaks regularly. Track your progress when adjusting your schedule, and gauge how beneficial it is. During these breaks, make sure to incorporate stretching exercises to improve posture and relieve any pain that you are experiencing. Here is a stretching exercise that you can start doing today to help relieve text neck:
- While keeping your back upright, tuck down your chin and then raise it upwards.
- Slowly, move your head to either shoulder, then towards the opposite one. Keep interchanging between the two.
- Invest in Ergonomic Furniture
Changing the pieces of furniture that you spend time on throughout your day can help with things like posture and text neck. This is especially true for people now working from home full-time. For example, you can invest in an adjustable chair that has different height options based on your preference. Adjustable office furniture ensures that the desktop screen is right at your eye level, because if it’s below or above, you’ll have to tilt your head at sometimes awkward angles. Over time, this can lead to chronic neck pain. Adjustable chairs come with all the bells and whistles that you can imagine at this point. Make sure that your chair has a headrest so you can both keep your head in a comfortable and upright position.
If you prefer to be more active during your workday, consider buying a standing desk. These allow you to be on your feet throughout parts of your day, allowing your body to move more versus being stagnant.
If it’s allowed at your workplace, you can also personalize your workstation by placing some succulent plants or mood lamps to relieve stress during your break sessions. These may not be directly related to neck pain, but they can help reduce stress throughout a busy workday. The less stressed you are, the more motivation you will have to work at these new routines to avoid text neck.
- Neck Stretches
Text neck can weaken your muscles, especially those of the upper body, by adding on extra weight to your neck. To reverse that, you can strengthen your muscles through various exercises and stretches. You can perform stretches while at home first thing in the morning to loosen up your muscles for the day. The beauty of stretching is that it doesn’t cost a thing. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to add effective neck stretches to your daily routine.
There are a variety of sources online that show how to perform certain neck stretches. Consider browsing YouTube videos (while holding your phone in an upright position) to learn a few stretches that fit your needs.
- Listen to Your Body
In case you ever experience prolonged and uncomfortable physical sensations, such as extended pain in your neck, listen to your body and visit a health professional. There are many different types. A chiropractor or physical therapist would both be great fits for your helping relieve text neck.
Both of these healthcare professionals can work with you in person during sessions, and also give you things to work on while at home. Healing does not happen overnight. Be patient with the journey and celebrate the small wins. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance, especially when you are in pain. You can and should feel great throughout your day.
Technology is not going away. In fact, it will only get more entrenched in our lives. As technology changes around us, we must also change with it to make sure that we are still living healthy lives. Consider altering things within your daily and weekly routine to help avoid text neck. Taking short breaks, or even investing in different workspace furniture, can help relieve you of neck pain. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from healthcare professionals that specialize in neck pain when experiencing severe pain.