For a few years now, the term ‘Text Neck’ (or Tech Neck) has been used to describe the neck pain, muscle tightness and restricted movement that come from using technology in a way that is not good for our posture. As the use of devices becomes more and more ingrained in everyday use, our bodies are feeling the strain of hours in un-ergonomic positions. While we have all been shown how to set up a desk for work at a desk top computer, most of us have never been shown how to use a smaller device in a way that will reduce strain on our bodies.
Symptoms of Text Neck
Our spines are designed in a way that distributes load and forces like gravity through our bodies and allows us to absorb them. Any major changes to our posture can create area of additional load through our spine, causing joint restriction and muscle tightness as our bodies struggle to absorb the load. With text neck, these areas of additional load are often at the top of our spine (the base of our skull) and/or across of our shoulders (where the neck meets the top of the ribcage).
While not an official diagnosis, text neck can include several key components, stemming from the uncomfortable way we hold our bodies while using technology, usually with our head bowed down and shoulders dropped forward.
The symptoms of text neck can include:
To help improve your posture while on devices and help to prevent text neck, there are many ways to help, depending which device you are using.
Smartphones: Try to bring the phone up in front of your face, rather than taking your face down to the phone. It can be difficult to keep your arms up in this position for long, so try this trick to help: Bring one hand across your chest, place your elbow in your opposite hand and voila, your phone is in front of your face. This is a great position of scrolling, a little tricky for texting, but give it a go! Also think about a phone grip, so you don’t have to hold the phone so tight.
Laptops: Raise the screen up to in front of your face at eye level and think about a separate keyboard and mouse when working on your laptop for prolonged periods.
Tablets: If you have the chance, get a stand for your tablet so you can have the screen in front of your face, especially while watching videos etc. Otherwise, similar to a laptop, try to raise the screen so you are not tilting your head down to the tablet, and if you need to be working on it get a Bluetooth keyboard or similar to allow an ergonomic setup.
Remember to take frequent breaks from your screens and stretching in between. It can be a good idea to put something in your workspace, that every time you look at it, it will remind you to check your posture. Whether it is a little sticker in the top corner of your screen, or every time you begin a specific task, or even a push notification or alarm set for specific intervals. Give yourself reminders to check your posture and stretch it out. You can also use your posture corrector at the end of the day to stretch out as well.
Just a couple of seconds every hour or so to check your posture can be a huge help in relieving and preventing text neck. So be aware of your body while using your device, take a break if you are starting to feel sore or tight and see if you notice any changes!
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