By Mike Atkinson
Are smartphones a pain in the neck? Yes they are, according to doctors, who warn that the ‘text neck’ epidemic could lead to permanent damage to the spine.
Research has found that leaning your head downwards can lead to bad posture and cause pain in your neck, shoulders and spine.
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A study published by the journal Surgical Technology International aimed to determine just how much force the head puts on the spine as the head tilts.
The average human head is around 4.5kilos. Imagine putting a 10-pound bowling ball on a stick and then slowly leaning it forward. The stick could probably handle the pressure of holding the bowling ball while it was upright, but as you lean it forward, the stick would start to bend and then eventually it would crack.
This is because when you lean a heavy mass that is supported by a narrow column, the force on the column becomes greater the farther the mass is tilted.
Smartphone use is here to stay, so how do we keep our necks in tip top condition whilst using our phones and tablets? Here are 5 top tips to avoid text neck.
1. Look Up! Create the habit of lifting your phone, rather than dropping your head. Actually the reason the head drops from the base of the neck is due to tightness in the entire spine that makes it challenging to tilt you head downwards without collapsing in the neck.
2. Bend and Twist. The neck and upper back love to bend and twist, it’s what they were designed to do. But the everyday activities we do most of these days, does not require any rotation or side bending. A quick test to see how mobile you are in rotation is to try backing out of your driveway without shifting your body in the seat. Can you do it? If not, then you need to read the next tip.
3. Stretch. Create the habit of stretching every day! Honestly, having a 10-15 minute stretching routine every day will save you a world of pain, literally! The trick is to learn how to stretch effectively so you aren’t wasting your time. Investing in learning how to stretch is investing in the future quality of your life. So start stretching for the future!
4. Become Body Aware. Do you pay attention to your body? Or do you wait until your body starts to protest at what you are doing to it and only then become aware of the state it is in. When you are “body aware”, you notice little signals from your body, letting you know it’s not happy with how you are treating it. Headaches, tight neck muscles, pain in the upper back, unable to look over your shoulder are all signals that you may have “text neck posture” and need to take action to fix it.
5. Breathe. Take a deep breathe in and then let it all out. How does your body feel? Usually it will feel better, especially your upper back and neck. “Text Neck Posture” compresses your ribs and lungs, closing off your ability to breathe effectively and oxygenate the body and brain. So if you have been “on” your mobile device for a while, stop and take a couple of deep breathes in and out, it will stretch your ribs, upper back and neck and it will also release tension from tight shoulder and neck muscles.
List credit: Pilates Plus Fitness