7 Tips to Reverse “Text Neck”

Are you affected by neck pain? Are you reading this article on your phone? With smart phones in almost everyone’s hands, neck pain is on the rise. Do you know some medical doctors and chiropractors are actually using the term “text-neck” as a diagnosis? Yes, you heard me correct, text-neck.  What the term actually means is forward head posture causing increased stress in the cervical spine (neck).  PictureBecause of the overuse of smart phones and texting, people are looking down at their mobile devices for longer periods of time. Over time, this causes the head to jut forward increasing the weight and load on the joints of the neck. If this particular posture continues, it can even cause straightening or reversal of the natural curvature in the neck.

The same is true for regular computer users. When sitting at a computer for 8+ hours a day, the head tends to come forward, the shoulders roll forward and the muscles of the neck and upper back are over stretched while the muscles of the chest are shortened and tightened.  When the head is in line with the spine and directly over the shoulders, the cervical spine is able to distribute the weight of the head evenly throughout the joints. This however, is not true when the head is in front of the shoulders.

PictureImagine holding an 8-12 pound bowling ball with two hands close to your body. Now imagine holding that same ball with your arms stretched out in front of your body. Which is harder? Holding the ball out in front of your body is much harder than keeping it close against the body.  The same is true for your head (bowling ball) and cervical spine (arms). When your head is in front of your shoulders, the muscles of the neck and upper back have to work harder to hold it up. This is one of the most prevalent causes of upper back and neck pain.
I’m not telling you you’ll have to quit or your desk job or stop texting (although cutting back may help) to alleviate your neck pain. I will give you some tips you can practice instead.

7 Tips to reverse “text-neck”:

1. Limit your electronic usage– I know it sounds simple, and it actually is that simple.Picture Take time away from your phone and give your neck a break! Trust me you will be okay without Facebook or Candy Crush for a few hours.
2. Take micro-breaks at work– Of course it is not possible for some of you to limit your electronic usage when your job requires it. One little tip that helps tremendously is a micro-break. For every hour you are at a desk/computer, take a 1-2 minute break. Try Bruegger’s exercise during each break
3. Bruegger’s– Sit at the edge of your seat. Have your legs hip width apart with your feet turned out at a 45-degree angle. Hang your arms loosely at your side with your palms facing forward. Sit up straight in a neutral position.  Be sure not to over-extend to avoid putting a large curve in your low back. Bring your head back so it is directly over your shoulders. Take 5-10 deep breaths in and out. Repeat as needed. (I recommend 1-2 minutes/ each hour at a desk)
4. Perform neck stretches– The cervical (neck) ranges of motion are a very easy and effective way to stretch your neck. Perform them in the shower with the hot water hitting on your neck and upper back (to help encourage relaxation) or while you are watching T.V.
5. Cervical Ranges of Motion– Go through the following 6 ranges, 2-3 times/day: tuck your chin to your chest (flexion), look up to the ceiling (extension), bend your ear to your shoulder, both sides (lateral flexion), turn your chin to your shoulder, both sides (rotation). The key is to go until you feel restriction, but not past it! Hold for 5-10 seconds. Do NOT force the motion.
6. Use a Cervical Roll– After a long day at work (or on your phone); your neck needs a break. The neck is supposed to have a natural C-shaped curve, but as I mentioned before, it can be flattened or even reversed. A simple way to help get the curve back is the use of a cervical roll. Take a small hand towel and roll it up length-wise. Once it is rolled you can put a rubber band or duct tape around it to keep it rolled tight. Now laying on your back on a flat surface, place the roll at the base of your neck so your neck naturally curves around it. Do not put it under your head. If your head is propped up you need to move the roll lower down your spine. Relax and rest on the cervical roll for 15-30 minutes/day.
7. Get Adjusted! – After low back pain, neck pain is the second most common reason people see a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments will help restore normal joint function and can reduce/eliminate muscular tension. 

Need a Chiropractor near St. Louis, MO?

Smart Pain Solutions has two convenient locations in St. Louis. Call Bridgeton at 314-298-1400 or Clayton 314-721-5390.

20 thoughts on “7 Tips to Reverse “Text Neck”

  1. I should probably try taking 1-2 minute breaks at work. I sit all day hunched over a computer screen, so I should probably make sure to stand up and stretch every once in a while. I’ll have to remember your tips so that I can relieve some of the pain I’m in.

  2. Hello, ty for taking my question. My grays show small annular tear, mild stenosis, & reverse lordosis of cervical spine. I’ve had injections, PT, all kinds of pain relievers including p.o. rxs, topical, ice packs on a daily basis with stretches. I don’t want to just keep going up on my pain rxs bc I’m only in my early 40s. What would you suggest next. I’m a nurse of over 2 decades. I’ve also seen chiropractors, massage therapists. I’m not sure what else there’s left to do. My pain daily is a 6-7 with pain rxs:(

    1. Thanks for the questions and sorry to hear about your situation. It does sound like you have tried almost everything. You mentioned PT, chiropractic and stretching. Have any of these providers taken an active approach to actually strengthen and stabilize the proper areas? Passive therapy, adjustments and lengthening tight muscles can only go so far. Consider researching more PTs and Chiros, if you weren’t happy with the other other’s philosophies. If you have tried a thorough rehab plan and you are still in daily pain, a neurosurgeon consultation may be the next step. Sorry I know that probably isnt what you want to hear. DrBO

  3. I’m dealing with vascular thoracic syndrome and just found out I’m dealing with reversed cervical neck…will these methods help reverse this issue in time? Thank you

    1. Good question. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) and “Reversed” cervical spine can be functional or structural. Functional meaning its product of your posture and daily behavior, and structural meaning you were born that way. In either instance, the methods you mentioned would likely be a part of your overall management strategy. In most functional cases I would recommend beginning with a good physical medicine practitioner (Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, or DO). In the structural case, a Cervicothoracic Surgeon may be indicated. Hard to comment on specific with out more details. Hope this was helpful. Dr.BO

  4. I am a 22 year old female who has a bony hump at the base of my neck. It doesn’t change the look of my back anywhere else, only at the shoulder level. I’m sure it is a curve in the spine from poor posture as I don’t meet any criteria for Cushing’s disease and it doesn’t feel fatty. It’s horribly embarrassing and I am very self conscious about it. It isn’t the worst hump ever but What are the chances of it improving or the curve reversing as I work on my posture and do recommended exercises? I’m not in a lot of pain from this (yet), but I want to address it now. If it is an abnormal neck curve should I keep hope or accept that this is how I’ll look?

    1. Ciara, I am familiar with the “hump” you are referring to and it sounds like you have done your homework. Unfortunately, I cannot honestly say that exercises and working on posture will improve your situation. Much of what you are experiencing is structural, meaning you were essentially born this way. If you look around, you might be surprised at how many other people have accentuated humps at the base of their necks. With that said, I would not stop following exercises and stretches to improve. If nothing else you may be able to prevent further progression. One key area to focus on strengthening are the deep neck flexors in the front of your neck.

  5. I am a nurse and frequently suffer from neck pain. Obviously the long hours of looking down at my computer, MAR, and residents had taken a toll! I recently had x-rays done and the conclusion was my natural curve no longer exists and actually it’s quite straight. I get horrible migraines and I can feel that it’s coming from the tension in my neck, shoulders, and upper back. Can I get the natural curve back from the above mentioned practices and relieve this pain or am I looking at something more extensive?

    1. Mindy, It is not unreasonable to expect some improvement in your cervical curve. However, without knowing what your curve looked like prior it is hard to know how much. Regardless, I would definitely expect some symptom relief. It is clear that your daily routine is allowing your spine to be come rather dysfunctional. By incorporating some of these strategies and encouraging better balance in your cervicothoracic spine, I would expect some improvement. Thanks for your question.

  6. Hello!
    I am a seventeen year old female who has a bone like limp at the base of the back of my neck. I was not born with it. Unfortunately it transpired due to poor posture and lack of knowledge on what the side effects would be. I used to read in middle school a lot and I would read by hanging my head to look down at my book. One day (like a year later), I noticed my neck was not longer elegantly straight anymore. My neck sits forward and it looks horribly unflattering and I am very self conscious about it. Because of this, i don’t often wear my hair up. I’m afraid I have permently damaged myself, and the thought scares me. Is there any way to reverse it? Back to its original straight position?

    1. Savannah,
      Thanks for your question. A couple things; first, sleeping position is really important. Here is link to a recent blog we did about sleeping position . All day long we “wreck” our neck. Nighttime is the perfect and sometimes only opportunity to balance things out. Second our perception of our posture and actual posture are not always the same. I would recommend starting with a qualified chiropractic evaluation and maybe an xray to get a better idea of your current situation. I recommend the Forward Thinking Chiropractors. Feel free to follow up with any additional questions. drbo

  7. I am a 70 year old ‘young’ woman with a structural reverse curve of the neck. While doing artwork on a nearly flat drafting board would wearing a neck brace help support my neck? Also would you please suggest a type of pillow and best sleeping position. Sincerely grateful for advice.

    1. Nancy,
      Thanks for your questions. If your neck is bothering you while you work, I would suggest finding a way to elevate your table so your work was more at eye level. Constantly looking down, especially with your condition, will probably aggravate your neck if I am understanding your correctly. As far as sleeping goes, we recommend on your sleeping on your back. Attached is a brief blog article on the sleeping recommendations we make. Sleep Blog Click Here. Hope this helps.

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