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:
Consider the importance and value of a good night’s sleep (beyond the price tag) when you are looking for a new mattress. Your back will thank you.
A 2011 study by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) reports that 41% of women and 36% of men claimed their back pain was caused by a poor night’s sleep. The pain can often be attributed to the firmness, size, or the offered back support of the mattress. If you’ve ever woken up with a sore neck or back, you may want to evaluate the quality of your mattress. Your mattress can play an important role in maintaining your MSK health. Here are a few tips to consider when making a purchase.
When to replace your mattress
Waking up from slumber with a sore back on repeated occasions can be a sign that it is time to switch to a newer mattress. Typically, it is said that after 10 years, the bed will begin to deteriorate, which is the best time to consider buying a new one.
What size do I need?
Mattress size depends on the number and size of people sleeping on the bed; therefore, consider the following1,2:
Buy a mattress that provides the proper support for your entire body and promotes good posture.
The sleeper’s spine should lay parallel and not sag in any area because the bed is too soft, or bow because the bed is too hard.
The mattress should be six inches longer than the tallest person sleeping in the bed.
The width of the bed should allow enough space for the person’s pillow and even for a person to put their hands behind their head without their elbows touching any other person sleeping.
If the person is a restless sleeper, it is recommended that the bed be wider to accommodate some tossing and turning.
Take time to try out the bed before you buy and see if it’s right for you.
There are many options to consider when it comes to purchasing a mattress. Make sure to take the time to explore and do your research, especially if you are looking for specific features to meet your needs. A good night’s rest is important for your MSK health and ensures you can continue doing your daily activities. Consider these tips for your next mattress—your back depends on it!
Research indicates that successful whiplash recovery requires patient co-operation and active efforts to resume daily activity. The treating health care professional will assess your whiplash injuries, and discuss options for treatment and control of pain. Although prescription medications are usually unnecessary, temporary use of a mild over-the-counter medication may be suggested, in addition to ice or heat. Some whiplash sufferers are reluctant to return to activity, but if your health professional advises it – get active.
Continuing normal activities is important to recovery.
Injured muscles can stiffen up and weaken if they are not used, which will only add to pain and delay your recovery.
Returning to normal activity can also be assisted by active treatment and exercise. Physical exercise releases chemicals in the body that can help reduce pain in a natural way.
Cervical collars or neck braces are not usually recommended, as they have shown little benefit.
Avoid sitting in one position for too long.
Stand up and stretch from time to time, whether you are watching TV or sitting at your computer.
When you are at your workstation, sit so that the upper part of your arm rests close to your body and make sure your back and feet are well supported.
If you are well enough to drive again, adjust the car seat so that your elbows and knees are loosely bent.
When to Rest
Avoid contact sports or strenuous exercise for the first few weeks after your injury, to prevent further aggravation.
Ask your health professional about alternate recreational, sports or fitness activities you can do while you heal.
Make your sleeping area as comfortable as you can. Your pillow should be adjusted to support your neck at a comfortable height.
And remember: stay connected to family, friends and co-workers to avoid the blues, and focus on getting on with your life, rather than focusing on the injury.
What are Conservative Treatment options for Whiplash?
Our clinic offers the following treatment options for whiplash associated disorders due to car accidents and other traumatic injuries. Please note the list is not exhaustive of all treatment options that are beneficial.
Manual Chiropractic Adjustments
Soft Tissue/Trigger Point Therapy
Electrotherapy(IFC & Tens)
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
Fit for Life aims to provide every patient with focused care, and excellent service. Our diverse team of professionals will work with you to diagnose and treat ailments, and guide you to optimal health. Make an appointment with us today!