There’s a new epidemic taking place called “text neck” which is believed to be a direct result of too much time spent texting and smartphone use in general. Although the term is new, the phenomenon of text neck has been a problem for quite some time now. Text neck is a jargon term for forward head posture (FHP), an incorrect posture associated with a number of health problems. The posture is caused by our tendency to move the head forward when reading, watching TV, writing, and using other electronic devices.
The problem is so common today that it has become an epidemic according to Dr. Gregory E. Johnson, a chiropractor in Houston, TX. Luckily, there are ways to correct and prevent text neck and which we will cover in this article.
Why We Have Text Neck?
Our head should sit on our shoulders like a golf ball on a tee. Unfortunately, our modern-day lifestyle requires that we sit and stand in positions that are unnatural. Many of us, unfortunately, hold such an abnormal postures day in and day out which leads to postural changes. For instance, when you look at your cell phone, which you probably do for a great portion of your time, your head tends to bend forward and this puts pressure on the discs, ligaments, and muscles of your neck.
Repeating this posture for years leads to permanent changes to your spinal alignment and that can lead to many health problems says Dr. E. Johnson. Since global mobile data forecasts predict that the number of digital device users will be over 2 billion by next year, we can only imagine the burden this use will place on our necks and spine.
Health Problems Associated With Text Neck
Text neck is in itself a problem, but it causes a cascade in our overall health and well-being. Other than causing neck strain, upper back and shoulder pain, text neck also reduces our vital lung capacity by 30% according to current research. Furthermore, according to Dr. Gregory Johnson, if left untreated, this type of incorrect posture will cause the nerves that exit the spine to function abnormally (pinched nerve) and this leads to health problems such as headaches and migraine, muscle tension, and in severe cases herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. Text neck generally causes compression of the upper and lower cavity which makes it harder for the heart, lungs, and vasculature of the upper cavity.
How to Treat Text Neck?
According to a study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, treatment involving spinal manipulative therapy, headweight devices, and rehabilitative exercise at home can decrease FHP by 56% when employed over an 8-week period. But any type of exercising is said to improve overall posture and spine health. Examples of exercises for better posture include yoga, pilates, swimming, running, and aerobic exercise in general.
Exercising improves posture by strengthening the upper back and neck muscles that support your head and over time, the discs in your neck and spine become aligned with your shoulder and head. Treating text neck also involves avoiding slouching and bending the head forward when using your devices. After a while, you should be able to develop a habit of remaining in a healthy posture at all times.
Avoiding Text Neck
If you want to prevent text neck, the American Chiropractic Association has provided simple guidelines for you to follow. In these guidelines, you’ll find advice such as sitting up straight, bringing your arms in front of you when using your smartphone, placing your forearms on a pillow when typing to minimize head bending. But in general, you should avoid overusing your mobile devices to reduce the burden on your neck.
If you work in front of the computer, place the computer so that the screen is aligned with your eyes to avoid bending your head downward. Also, stretch every 20 minutes and use a back-supporting pillow when you need to sit for long hours at the desk or in a car. Children are more likely to develop this problem when carrying heavy backpacks. Using a chest belt can neutralize the load on a child’s back as is using a newly-developed backpack with an air bladder.
One of the consequences of living in a digital world is spinal and neck problems such as text neck. While it can be hard to avoid using electronic devices since we rely on them to work and communicate, we can limit our use for the sake of our health. Exercising regularly will help strengthen your neck and back muscles and most likely correct your posture. To avoid developing text neck, follow the advice given here and you will prevent developing chronic pain and other health problems associated with this type of poor posture.