Smart Phones - Not So Smart For Our Neck!
As technology advances and uses proliferate, we become more and more reliant on our devices. No where is this more evident than the use of Smart Phones. From children to adults, people are hanging their heads down to text, read email or play games. Unfortunately, technology is having a negative impact on our neck and upper back.
“Text Neck” is a term coined by Dr. Dean Fishman in 2008 which illustrates the changes in the neck and upper back from chronic use of a Smart Phone. Postures change, and tightness/pain develops sending many to their MD to seek relief. Referral to a Physical Therapist is typically a course of action along with pain medication and muscle relaxers.
So What is Happening?
Forward Head: Looking down at our phone causes the head to round forward and down placing a chronic strain on the posterior neck muscles. The head which weighs typically 10 # is designed to sit on the neck with a slight lordotic curve. Looking down at our phone changes the natural curve which can increase the force on the neck to 60#. Painful muscles spasms develop, muscles become weak from the constant stretch, disc compression can result along with possible nerve impingement. Headache complaints become more common.
Shoulders Round Forward: The chest muscles tighten, upper back muscles (postural and scapular stabilizers) become stretched, strained, painful and weak. The chest wall becomes compressed restricting rib and lung expansion as we breathe and is most notable when taking a deep breath.
Shoulders elevate: Neck and upper back muscles tighten causing headaches, pain and poor spinal alignment.
So, what can we do?
Start off holding your smart phone up at eye level to reduce spinal strain. Take frequent breaks every 15-20 minutes to stretch, stand up straight and give your muscles a change to recover. See your Physical Therapist to get you on an individualized exercise program to allow you to use your smart phone without chronic pain and weakness.
-Joann Tippett, MPT