By now, you’ve probably heard about the condition “Text Neck” – a medical diagnosis for people who are experiencing neck and upper back pain, due to extended periods of looking downward, generally at a 45 degree angle or more. A recent study published in The Spine Journal states that due to prolonged poor posture from using technological devices like smartphones and tablets, people – even youths who should not have these symptoms – are reporting disc hernias and spinal alignment problems.
What’s more concerning is that since it’s a relatively new condition, it is yet unknown as to how this will affect health over long periods of time. What we do know is the amount of pressure that is exerted on the spine increases with every degree it is flexed. So someone who sits in neutral position is supporting 10-12 pounds, while someone who is flexed to even just 15° is supporting what feels like 27 pounds.
So, what do you do when your job depends on looking downward for extended periods of time to fix these devices?
There are a few things you can do to help avoid the Text Neck problem. First and foremost, take frequent breaks! Every 15 – 30 minutes you should stretch your neck gently in all directions, front to back, then side to side. It’s even better if you can stand up while you do this stretch. You can also do chest stretches and loosen up your upper back by grasping your hands behind your back and pulling them gently upward, and then by placing your left arm across your chest and gently pulling on that arm to the right with your right hand. Then repeat with the right arm/left hand. (Be sure to avoid pulling on your elbow, as that could cause unnecessary stress to that joint.) Relieving your body’s muscle tension helps ease the strain on your skeletal frame as well.
Secondly, get adjusted! Chiropractors can help correct the wear and tear we all put on our spines and necks, so seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis will help tremendously in keeping Text Neck at bay. Since you’re in an industry that is especially susceptible to neck and upper back strain, it’s even more crucial to seek regular chiropractic care to keep the structural integrity of your spine. Gentle, regular adjustments will keep your spine and neck aligned properly and help you avoid injury. Your spine will thank you for it!