Is your mobile phone destroying your posture?
The year is 2019. Technology, as we know it, has advanced to a whole new level.
We have smart phones!
The world – now easily accessible with just a swipe of a finger. (… and usually done so with a bad posture)
… And the result?
Text neck syndrome.
“Hey Mark! – what is this text neck syndrome you speak of?”
Text neck syndrome is a condition where one develops neck, upper back and/or shoulder pain as a result of poor posture whilst using the smart phone.
… Is this how you use your phone?
If it is, don’t feel bad.
You actually share the same posture as most of the clients that I see in the clinic with text neck syndrome.
What happens to your posture in text neck syndrome?
“Where the head goes, the body follows”
Image from 98.5.
As you look down at your smart phone:
- Your head pokes forward. (For more info: Forward head posture)
- Your upper back hunches. (For more info: Hunch back posture)
- Your shoulders round forward. (For more info: Rounded shoulders)
Over time, this posture will cause issues in the muscles and joints of your neck!
Let’s be honest. We are all addicted to our phones…
With the excessive amount of time we’re spending on it, it’s only a matter of time before the negative effects of adopting this posture become apparent.
With the average person using their smart phone anywhere between 2-4 hours a day in total, this equates to over 700 – 1400 hours per year!
That is a enormous amount of time looking down!
To give you an idea of how much extra stress is going through your neck, it is equivalent of heaving heavy weight plate from the gym resting on your head.
As the Washington Post explains it:
… as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
…Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.
Other symptoms of Text neck syndrome may include:
- Neck stiffness
- Inability to move head through full motion
- Referred arm pain
- Clicking of the neck joints
- Feelings of heaviness
- Eye pain
Do you suffer from any of the text neck syndrome symptoms as mentioned above?
If you do, I urge you to consider doing something about it now before it is too late.
Area of pain:
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
People suffering from text neck syndrome tend to have pain in the indicated areas (X) as above.
Text neck syndrome exercises:
Note: All exercises must be performed pain-free.
If you have any doubts on whether these exercises are suitable for you, please consult your health practitioner.
1. Warm up your neck muscles
The muscles and joints in your neck can become very stiff with prolonged use of a smart phone.
Let’s loosen them up!
Video from Jennifer Van Barneveld-Pe
- Sit with the ideal good posture.
- Perform a gentle circular motion with your neck.
- Change directions.
- Repeat 10 times.
Hold each stretch for at least 3o seconds.
a) Side neck stretch
b) Levator scapula stretch
c) Front neck stretch
d) Back neck stretch
3. Chin retraction
It is essential to strengthen the muscles which are responsible for maintaining the correct alignment of your neck.
- Whilst sitting upright, gently tuck your chin in (… Think of it as “making a double chin”).
- Imagine the back of your neck elongating as you perform this movement.
- Make sure to keep your jaw and neck muscles relaxed.
- Hold for 5-15 seconds depending on your level of comfort.
- Repeat 10 times.
Note: For more exercises like this, check out the post: Forward head posture correction.
4. Chest stretch
All that time on your smart phone will cause your chest muscles to become pretty tight! Remember – the tighter your chest muscles, the worse your posture will become.
Let’s stretch them out.
- Place your hands onto a door frame (as above)
- Lunge forward.
- Aim to feel a stretch along your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
5. Scapula Retraction
- Gentle pull your shoulder blades back and down
- Make sure that you feel the muscles between your shoulder blades are contracting.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
How to correctly use your smart phone:
Check out this post: The Ideal sitting posture for an in-depth explanation of how to position your posture properly.
- Don’t slouch. Sit up straight!
- Gently tuck your chin in.
- Roll your shoulder blades backwards.
- Raise your phone at neck/eye level.
- Keep your elbows tucked in.
You may think it looks awkward. Or perhaps you might feel people will look at you weirdly.
But let me ask you a question… If you have pain from text neck syndrome and you knew you could improve it, wouldn’t you do it?
Who cares what other people think… Perhaps you may even inspire them to use the correct posture whilst using their phone.
If you are interested in fixing your posture, I would recommend you check out this post: Sitting posture.
It goes through in detail exactly how your posture should be.
a) Use your eyes to look down:
If you are not keen on raising the height level of how you use your smart phone, try angling your eyes down towards the smart phone instead.
b) Take a break:
Do you absolutely have to be checking Facebook/Twitter/Emails etc all the time? If you really have to, try to incorporate some rest breaks every 10-15 minutes.
c) Protect your kids:
Kids are great with technology.
In fact, kids are starting to use smart phones at younger ages. If you have children, have a look at them.
Is your kid slouched over their gadget?
Teach them good habits whilst their young. It’s very hard to break bad habits once they are formed.
Do you have text neck syndrome?
I hope not. But if you do, I hope that I have demonstrated some simple strategies to help fix the problem.
Feel free to leave a comments down below. I am here to help!
Until next time, happy texting! (…in moderation of course)