Cell Phones & Neck Pain
Have you ever taken a pause from playing a game or texting a friend on your cell phone and noticed a kink, increasing pain or soreness in your back, neck and shoulder areas? You may be experiencing the negative impact of excessive cell phone use.
Referred to as "tech neck" or "text neck", the condition happens as a result of the neck and head being in a flexed position. As you use your cell phone to text or play games, the neck flexes forward, leading to increased forces and pressure on the tendons, ligaments, muscles and discs in and around the neck.
This can lead to chronic neck pain later, cause wear and tear on internal structures and change the natural curvature of the neck.
While text neck is a relatively newly document phenomenon, any activity that requires prolonged or extensive flexing of the neck and cause neck pain.
Three things occur when you drop your head:
- Your neck moves forward.
- Your shoulders round forward or lift toward your ears.
- Your neck and shoulder muscles spasm or contract.
Your neck muscles are designed to support the weight of your head when positioned properly. The typical adult head weighs about 11 pounds. The load on your neck muscles doubles for every inch your head drops forward.
How can I relieve neck pain?
If you're suffering from neck pain, you might consider using some of these tools and techniques:
1. Stretch your shoulders.
Our physiotherapists at Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans often recommend our patients stretch their neck and shoulder muscles throughout the day, for good reason - stretching can help you maintain good posture and lower your risk of neck and back pain after you've spent a long day at work hunched over your laptop or digital device.
Here are some of our most common recommendations for stretches for a healthier neck:
- Scapular Retraction - With your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, pull your shoulders backward and leave your arms at your side. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat these motions as require.
- Neck Retraction & Chin Tuck - While sitting up, move your head backward and slightly tuck your chin. Keep looking straight without tilting your head back. Hold this position for a few seconds, then repeat.
- Side Bending - Retract your head slightly and bend to the side, moving your ear towards your shoulder. With your hand on top of your head, pull slightly and bend further. Hold this position for a few seconds before relaxing and repeating the motion for your other side.
2. Cut back on using your cell phone.
As our personal and professional lives blend and we spend more time on our phones, tablets and other digital devices, it's becoming more of a challenge to take breaks from them. However, time away from screens is necessary to protect our physical and mental health.
Most phones are able to track your daily and/or weekly usage. Keep an eye on this - you might find it shocking to learn how much time you spent on your device at the end of the week! Working on a laptop (which most of us do for a good chunk of the day), reading or other activities that require us to flex our neck can also contribute to pain or discomfort.
Along with cutting back on your overall cell phone use, try to take regular breaks - at least every 45 to 60 minutes. You may find it useful to get up, change your posture and exercise to help ease bodily tension.
3. Hold your phone closer to eye level.
Anything that helps to reduce stress on your neck, such as holding your head and neck in a more neutral position with your phone closer to eye level, can help reduce the onset of neck pain.
4. Engage in physiotherapy.
If you're already experiencing neck pain or text neck, or have suffered bodily injuries, we offer physical therapy at our physiotherapy clinic location in Nepean. The physiotherapists there can help improve your mobility and quality of life by establishing which pain management and reduction techniques will work for you.
If you spend as much time on digital devices including cell phones and tablets as most people do, counter conditioning such as awareness of your posture, stretching, exercise and physical therapy are important to help manage and reduce pain you may be feeling in your neck and other areas of your body.
The physiotherapists at our physiotherapy center in Nepean can help you get on the right track to improved health, less pain and a better quality of life.