Text Neck, The Sequel.
We got such a great response from our previous blog “Tips to Reverse Text-Neck” that we produced the sequel. We believe the reason this particular blog was so popular is because so many people now suffer from electronic use- related neck pain. In fact, some would even call it a modern day epidemic.
If you haven’t read our first blog, “Text-Neck” is a term some medical professionals are using to describe forward head posture; leading to increased stress to the cervical spine (neck) causing neck pain, upper back pain, and headaches. Because of the constant usage of electronics, whether it be a computer at work, your smart phone, or tablet, the general population is spending more time looking down.
Normal and correct head posture involves the head seated directly over the shoulders. If you drew a dot on the center of the ear and another dot on the center of the shoulder joint, they should line up. Forward head posture (FHP) is when the head juts forward in front of the shoulder. FHP increases or in some cases, reverses the angle of the cervical spine. This in turn, adds stress on the joints of the neck, upper back and related muscles.
According to A.I Kampandji, the highly regarded, French orthopedic surgeon and author of The Physiology of the Joints, “for every 2.5 cm the head moves forward, it gains 0.45 kg (.99 lbs) in weight, as far as the muscles in the upper back and neck are concerned, because they experience more strain to support the position of the head.”
Exaggerated head posture can lead to increased shear force on the discs of the upper spine, ultimately resulting in accelerated disc degeneration. As the disc degenerates, the outer fibers become weaker and are at risk of tearing, causing disc herniation. Cervical disc herniations can cause severe pain, numbness, and weakness in arms and hands.
Though chronic pain and possible disc herniations can be pretty scary, we are not providing this information to alarm you. Our goal is to help you become more aware of your posture, limit the use of electronics, and give you some tips to help manage muscular and joint stress along the way.
Again, we’ve given some helpful tips in “7 Tips to Reverse Text-Neck” but here are a few more:
- Seated Lateral Cervical stretch – while sitting at your desk, hold the bottom of your chair with your right hand. Lean your body towards the left and tilt your head to your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. Repeat 2-3xs/every hour of sitting.
- Corner Stretch – stand facing a corner with each hand and forearm on opposite walls and elbows at a 90 degree angle. With feet together, shift your bodyweight towards your toes and lean into the corner. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times. Perform 2-3xs/day.
- Recovery position – See our recent blog on Sleeping recommendations. “How Should I Sleep?”
- Desk Ergonomics –
- Chair/Posture- chair height should be low enough that both feet rest flat on the floor, but high enough that the thighs are parallel to the floor. If the desk is too tall, a foot stool may be necessary so your feet rest flat. Sit with back against backrest and butt near the back of the seat. Knees should be level with or slightly below the hips. If the chair does not have a lumbar support, putting a small cushion or pillow behind the low back may be helpful.
- Computer monitor- top of the screen should be at, or slightly below eye level. Make sure the computer is directly in front of you, about arms length away, not off to either side. When typing, arms should be close to the body and elbows bent to 90 degrees. Hands should be level with or slightly below elbows. Keep wrists straight, not bent up or down or to either side.
- Phone/Headset- if your job requires frequent use of a phone or if you need to use the phone and type/write at the same time, a headset should be used. This will help to avoid holding the phone between your ear and shoulder.
- Driving posture – sit w/ your back against the seat, move seat forward/ close to steering wheel to avoid leaning or reaching forward, use headrest when driving for long periods of time, position hands near the bottom of the steering wheel (approx. @ 8:00/ 4:00)
We hope this information is helpful. If you are dealing with chronic neck and upper back pain, or headaches, or know someone who is, please use/share these tips and lifestyle modifications. Visit your chiropractor for more information and management strategies.
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Research article link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4433962/ Kapandji IA. The physiology of the joints. 6th ed. Vol. 3. Churchill Livingstone; 2008.