Text Neck - and How to Prevent It

By Athlete's Care on January 19, 2018

Toronto Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine

New technology often has unexpected effects. Who would have thought that a device meant to communication could affect...the neck? “Text neck” is a condition that our Toronto physiotherapists and chiropractors see more and more of. It’s the term for that sore and stiff feeling that can develop in your neck that is caused by using your cell phone or other device for long periods of time.

It’s more than just a little muscle soreness. It’s a repetitive stress injury that is caused by looking down at your phone or tablet, and it becomes an orthopedic issue. Simply put, your head is heavy. It weighs about 10 to 13 pounds. Now, the spine and neck are designed to hold your head in a balanced position. 

  • A balanced or neutral position means that your head, neck, and shoulders are in their proper alignment. This distributes the weight of your head evenly on your cervical spine.
  • With each inch that you push your head forward, which you do when you look down, you’re increasing the weight load on your cervical spine, and throwing the alignment out of whack.

Pain and stiffness is just the beginning. If unchecked and untreated, there can be significant injury.

  • Neck strain;
  • Pinched nerves;
  • Chronic headaches;
  • Curvature of the spine;
  • Herniated discs.

You may even require surgery. Prevention is clearly the key to avoiding injury – here are some simple measures you can take.

  • Hold your phone at eye level or as close as you can get it.
  • Lower your eyes to view the screen, and not your whole head. Keep your chin up.
  • Stretches – your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can give you advice on exercises like shoulder rolls that can help to release tension in the neck and restore proper alignment of the upper body. Increasing chest and upper body strength will also help.
  • Maintain good posture – slouching will add to the effect of leaning over your phone or other device.
  • Take breaks frequently and text less. Consider how you can cut down on your cell phone or mobile device usage – that will help the most!

Good posture and upper body strength can help you prevent any number of issues related to the neck and shoulders, not to say your back. You’ll be doing yourself a big favour by making it one of your goals to improve your posture in general, especially when sitting down. Poor posture has even been linked to larger issues such as depression and problems with digestion. It also tends to result in poor circulation because you are causing compression to certain areas of your body. It’s not just about text neck, in other words.

Our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have. If you are experiencing text neck or any other orthopedic issue, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto clinics to make your appointment today.