Last month we explained that text thumb is a real problem that can develop from repeatedly typing away on smartphones. In a day when smartphone use is constant and everywhere, it’s sadly not the only risk associated with excessive use. For over-users of smartphones that can’t seem to put them down, there’s also text neck.
Like text thumb, text neck is a repetitive stress injury that arises from continuously performing the same activity—namely, texting. In this case, though, it’s not the motion of the thumbs that can cause damage, but the craning of the neck to look at the screen that’s become so characteristic of most smartphone use these days.
Biologically speaking, our necks were not made for texting. Neck muscles and joints can handle our normal everyday movements, but they are not built to withstand being flexed for countless hours every day. In addition, the average human head weighs about 10 pounds in a neutral position (with ears over shoulders), but the further the head tilts forward, the more the pressure increases on the neck.
So when you spend a good chunk your free time belting out texts or watching the latest viral video on YouTube, you’re pushing your neck past its limits, and over time, text neck can result. Aside from pain or soreness in the neck, the condition can also lead to headaches, shoulder, arm or wrist pain. In severe cases, it can even cause muscles to adapt to fit the flexed position, which can reverse the natural curvature of the neck and make it painful to straighten it properly.
Though it’s far-fetched to recommend ceasing all or even most texting in today’s world, but as with text thumb, there are additional measures you can take to reduce your chances of developing text neck. Here are some basic steps you can take:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, sit up straight, roll your shoulders back and keep your eyes directly over them (so your head isn’t tilted forward); it also helps to hold the phone a bit higher to maintain good posture
- Take regular breaks every few minutes while using your phone to look upwards or straight ahead while tucking the chin back towards the neck
- Dictate messages instead of typing them out as often as possible
- Use the app Text Neck Indicator (only available for Android), which alerts users if the smartphone is being viewed at a dangerous or safe angle
- Perform strengthening exercises, which will build up muscles in the neck and shoulders to better prepare them for the strain from craning
- Perform stretching exercises to increase flexibility and range of motion
Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates understands the importance of smartphones in today’s times, but we don’t like to see patients in pain from overusing these devices. If you’re experiencing pain or soreness that may be from too much texting, we can help with exercises and other advice on minimizing neck strain. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists in Shelby, NC or Kings Mountain, NC, call us at 704-471-0001.