Text neck: what you need to know and how to treat it

Chiropractic | Posture

In our increasingly connected and ‘always on’ society, we’re spending more and more time looking down at our smartphones – and it’s taking its toll on our posture. ‘Text neck’ is a growing problem. You might even have text neck or ‘turtle neck’ posture right now – head forward, round shoulders, slouched back.

When last did you check how much time you’re spending every day looking at your phone or other screens? Research shows the average person spends over three hours a day on our phones. With some users spending over 4.5 hours a day looking at their phones1.

The further your head is tilted forward when looking at your phone, the greater the force that’s exerted on your neck, and the greater the curvature of the spine2. This extra strain can cause neck pain, stiffness, pain, and headaches. The effects can also be felt in the shoulders. In more serious cases, text neck can contribute to conditions such as spinal degeneration, disc compression, early onset arthritis, and more.

Be more aware of your posture

The best treatment for text neck is prevention. Try to limit screen time when possible, and actively hold your phone up to your eye level rather than looking down at it. Simply being more aware of your posture when holding your phone (and in general) can go a long way.

Every time you become aware of it, try to correct it. Pull your shoulders back and keep them open (not rounded) while lengthening your neck upwards (imagine a string pulling it up), while keeping your chin straight (not tilting down).

Exercise regularly

When you hold poor posture for extended periods of time, certain muscles in the chest and neck can shorten and become tight – exacerbating the problem3. So strengthening your back and neck through regular exercise can help to prevent neck pain and improve posture.

Try these simple stretches at home3:

  • Tilt your chin to your chest until you can feel a stretch in the back of your neck. Hold before lifting your chin up again. Repeat a few times.
  • Tilt your ear to your shoulder until you can feel the stretch in the opposite side of your neck. Repeat on the other side.
  • Stand in a doorway with one arm up, bent at the elbow at 90 degrees, pressed against the doorframe. Bring your chin down to the opposite collarbone, until you can feel the stretch in your neck. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Stand in a doorway, with both arms out to your side, bent at the elbows. Hold either side of the doorframe and lean gently forward with the rest of your body, until you feel the stretch in your collarbone and chest.

Limit your screen time

Set limits on how often you check messages and don’t get stuck scrolling endlessly on social media. Try to make the time you spend looking at your phone screen highly intentional.

Need help improving your posture and relief from pain and stiffness? Make an appointment for a consultation and we’ll help you with a tailored treatment plan for your unique lifestyle.

References

Rescue Time. Screen time stats 2019: Here’s how much you use your phone during the work day. (March 2019).
https://blog.rescuetime.com/screen-time-stats-2018/

Physiopedia. What is Text Neck? (n.d)
https://www.physio-pedia.com/Text_Neck

Spine Health. Text Neck Treatment and Prevention. (2018).
https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/text-neck-treatment-and-prevention

Dr. Matt le Roux is a man of many talents: chiropractor, sports scientist and functional medicine practitioner. His science-based approach motivates him to explore the synergy between health and performance that changes the way you move, live, train, think, and eat.

Dr Matt le Roux

Chiropractor, Functional medicine practitioner

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