Think about somebody using their cell phone, they look down, their head hangs forward, and they keep their phone close to their chests as if hoarding something. It's so routine that we don't even think about it anymore.
Except, chiropractors do. They're seeing more and more people coming in with neck and upper back problems than ever before, and they have a unique name for it.
What Is Text Neck?
This is a term for a set of symptoms that include upper back pain, neck strain, rounded shoulders, and perpetual slouching. It can start as a light pain and achiness and continuously develop into more debilitating pain.
The number of 18 to 25-year-olds seeking chiropractic care for this problem has grown exponentially over the past few years. And when combined with the rest of the adult population, it's become one of the top reasons to seek out chiropractic care.
Why Is Your Neck Hurting When You Use Your Phone?
So, what exactly is going on?
Anatomically, your head sits upon a very narrow base and your head is very heavy. The average adult head weighs about 30 lb.
In contrast, the muscles in your neck are very tiny and much of the weight is supported in your spine when you have proper posture.
Now, when you tip your head forward, the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back have to work extra hard to keep your head in place. So it places a lot of strain on those muscles, especially when held there for long periods.
It can affect the muscles in your jaw, back, chest, and throughout your face. They can lead to tension headaches, achiness, teeth grinding, jaw pain, balance problems, and fatigue.
In general, you're overworking very small, delicate muscles way too much.
Chiropractors Worry Over This In The Long Term
Right now, many people just feel the achiness and posture problems as the main issue.
Chiropractors know what's going to happen 30 to 50 years down the road.
As your body gets used to poor posture and leaning forward, that becomes the unconscious default way you hold yourself. Over time, your muscles, tendons, and even bones start to change to accommodate this new posture. Year after year, slight, minute changes add up.
Then, it becomes irreversible. You can become the hunchback old lady or old man that can't straighten their back to stand up straight.
And this has its own health problems. Having a hunched back interferes with your abilities to breathe and for your heart to beat. It causes more fatigue and weariness, and could eventually lead to congestive heart failure.
How You Can Stop The Pain From Texting
Right away, you might have to endure a little bit more discomfort before you can get the problem fixed. But, once you have the problem fixed, many other minor problems just disappear.
The simple answer is to work on your posture. So, let's break that down.
When using your cell phone, hold it up at eye level. We know this can seem pretentious, even unusual looking, as it clashes with what most people are used to seeing.
It also extends to the way you sit and stand.
When standing up, start with your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees ever so slightly, crunch your core muscles, and pull your shoulders back. This will automatically put your head back a little bit further into proper alignment. And this, too, will feel uncomfortable for a little while, but it will also be a great core workout (think belly exercises without the gym!).
The last part is watching how you sit. Most chairs, couches, and recliners have you half-laying down. This forces you to put up your neck into the text neck position to see anything. Force yourself to sit up a little bit straighter and keep your knees below your hips. Like above, pull your shoulders back, so your head rests above your neck and torso rather than keeping forward.
This is a lot to do and remember. However, if you need a little bit of help, various braces, bands, and reminder devices are available through chiropractors to help you gain proper posture. Right now, it can be a little difficult, but as you get older, the freedom from pain is definitely worth it.