We are living in a digitally connected world with many of us constantly texting, typing on tablets and playing video games. Bending your head to text, type or play can put extra stress on the neck – causing what some doctors are now calling texting neck.
An average adult head weighs 10-12 pounds when the neck is in a neutral position. However, the more the head is tilted forward, the more force it exerts on the neck – sometimes up to 60 pounds.
Vanessa Lanier, PT, DPT, OCS, specializes in neck pain. Dr. Lanier says, “The human body is designed to stand upright. In an optimal posture, the ears should be aligned with the shoulders, and the shoulder blades should not be rounded forward. However when one’s head is tilted or slumped in an unnatural position, several hours a day, every day, it can result in neck and back pain.
When we look down at an electronic device held at chest or waist-level, we drop our head forward and the neck muscles have to work harder to hold the head up. Additionally, the shoulders round forward, which can cause stiffness in the chest muscles and additional strain on the back muscles.”
This poor neck posture can cause:
- Neck pain and soreness
- Chronic upper back pain and severe muscle spasms
- Shoulder pain and tightness
- Pinched cervical nerve that can result in numbness down arm to the hand
Suggestions for avoiding neck pain when using your phone, tablet or laptop:• Hold your cell phone close to eye level. Remember, your eyes have a range of motion which allows you to look down at your phone without bending your neck.
- Laptops and tablets should be positioned so the screen is at eye level and you don’t have to bend head forward or look down to see the screen.
- Take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop during the day. Remember to get up and walk around, stretch or do some simple neck movements several times a day.
- If you work in an office, make sure your computer screen is set up directly in front of you, so that your head is positioned in line with your shoulders and spine.
Dr. Lanier adds, “Being aware of the strain that electronic devices can have on your neck is the first step to avoiding texting neck. If you are not proactive about proper posture, the wear and tear on your neck could result in chronic pain.”
If you have chronic neck pain, and would like to make an appointment to see Dr. Lanier, please call 314-286-1940.
Patients are seen at the Physical Therapy Clinic, 4444 Forest Park Ave., Suite 1210.