Do you ever ask yourself why your neck is so stiff, or why you have that nagging headache that doesn’t seem to want to go away? Neck pain is a common complaint for Canadians that can range from mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating. You’re probably aware that poor posture, hunching over a computer, or falling asleep on the sofa can cause your neck pain. But did you know your smartphone might be to blame?
How prolonged use can cause strain
According to a recent poll by Forum Research, more than a quarter of Canadians use a mobile device at least two hours a day.1 Over the span of a week, that’s 14 hours spent texting, calling and swiping.
So what exactly is happening to your neck while you’re staring at your smartphone? It all has to do with the angle of your head. When you’re sitting or standing in a neutral position, looking forward, your head weighs between 10-12 lbs. As you begin to tilt your head forward 15 degrees, you put stress on your neck, increasing the pressure to 27 lbs. By the time you angle your head 60 degrees to stare at your smartphone, the pressure equates to a whopping 60 lbs. That’s a lot of strain on your neck and spine!
Tips to relieve pain
What can you do to protect your spine and relieve neck pain? We know you can’t completely disconnect from your smartphones – many of us use our devices for work, to stay connected with distant friends and family, and as a source of entertainment after a long day. But there are small changes you can make to reduce the strain over time.
Dr. Sean Lamasz, DC, recommends the following tips to manage “Text Neck:”2
Lift your phone up to eye level
“A simple way to help prevent neck pain associated with these devices is to avoid bending your neck forward,” advises Dr. Lamasz. “Looking at your phone while sitting at your desk? Lean on your elbows, bringing your phone to eye level, allowing you to keep your neck in its neutral position.”
Take a break
Dr. Lamasz suggests implementing the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes on your mobile device, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet ahead, which will neutralize your spine.
Stretch it out
If you’re looking for something you can do to instantly relieve neck pain, try these eight simple stretches:
Our modern digital age has brought us many conveniences. BlackBerry devices, iPhones, Samsung, tablets and e-readers allow us to communicate and be entertained with the push of a button. Technology can improve our quality of life, but it comes with a price: being huddled over devices for long period of times can do more harm than good.
Using certain devices for extended periods of time can easily lead to neck strain, headaches, and pain in the shoulders, arms and hands. Anyone who has used a cellphone or tablet for an extensive amount of time has probably experienced the peculiar strain it puts on your upper body. These conditions even have their own name now: Text Neck.
Here are some simple strategies to help shut down text neck strain:
Take frequent breaks
Taking frequent breaks and looking up from your device can provide your neck with some relief from the pressure of looking down.
Sit up straight
It is important to sit up straight while texting. This way you can maintain good posture, relieving your back and shoulders from the strain of being hunched over.
Hold the phone a little higher
Holding the phone closer to eye level helps maintain a healthy posture and puts less strain on the neck.
Be sure to stretch often between long periods of extended use of devices. You can rotate your shoulders with your arms by your sides to relieve tension. You can also tuck your chin down to your neck and then look up – this helps to relieve some of the tension in your neck built from the common forward-down position you adopt when looking at your device.
Many patients come to our clinic concerned about neck pain, neck spasm and even poor neck posture. We can help! Neck mobilizations, soft tissue therapy and heat can help loosen and realign the neck into proper position. Our chiropractor, physiotherapy and registered massage therapists are all trained to assist patients with neck pain and related health concerns.
Shared by Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., D.C. & Associates
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (2010) as a Doctor of Chiropractic and obtained a certificate in Medical Acupuncture at McMaster University (2010). At his practice located in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Luciano Di Loreto combines evidence-based chiropractic care with a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to health care. He is an approachable, passionate, and diligent practitioner with a focus on delivering exceptional acute, preventative, rehabilitative and supportive care for a variety conditions relating to the muscle, nerve, and bone. During his spare time, Dr. Luciano Di Loreto takes pleasure in spending time with his family and friends. He enjoys fishing and playing sports.
Fit for Life Wellness & Rehabilitation Centre is a health clinic located in Vaughan, Ontario, just north of Major Mackenzie on Weston Road (Located in the Vellore Medical Centre & Walk In Clinic). If you have questions for Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, please comment and we will get right back to you promptly with information on your conditions/concerns.