Understanding Text Neck And How To Reduce Discomfort

Posted on: 13 May 2017

If you use your smartphone for hours every day, like most Americans, then you may have generally poor posture when you use your phone. You can then develop something called text neck. If you want to know what this is and how you can reduce your discomfort, keep reading. 

What Is Text Neck?

When you look at your cell phone and hold it in front of you, you likely hold the phone down below your chest. When you do this, you change the posture of your body to comfortably read your phone. Your head bends down and angles slightly and your shoulders slump forward and round. Your upper back slumps as well. 

This type of position can strain the upper spine and the many muscles that run along the neck. The splenius, semispinalis, and trapezius muscles are just a few of the muscle groups that can become stressed and strained from the posture. As the muscles strain, they tighten and cause a great deal of  neck discomfort.

The majority of the pain you feel has to do with the weight of your head. The average head weighs about 10 or 11 pounds, and your muscles are only capable of holding this weight without harming your body as long as the head is kept in an upright position the majority of the time. 

How Can You Stop The Pain?

You obviously cannot change the weight of your head, but you can position your head and neck properly to reduce strain and soreness. When using your phone, hold it higher up so it is level with your chest. This way you can move your eyes down to see the phone without having to bend your neck uncomfortably. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and your head is a neutral position. A neutral head position is straight and not tilted forward, back, or to the side in any way. You should also try to keep this same position when using your computer. This may mean adjusting your monitor a bit.

If you use your phone or computer for some time and you feel your neck tensing up, take a break and complete some neck stretches. Chin tucks, shoulder scrunches, and shoulder blade pinches are a few good examples of exercises to complete. 

If your neck still feels tense after the exercises, then take a break and place a warm compress on your neck. Ice packs and NSAID pain relievers can help as well. For more information, seek the advice of a professional like Wayne Isaacson MD.