Smartphones, tablets and computers have become a huge part of our everyday life. We use them to stay in touch with friends and family, read the news, stay up on current events and perform work activities. With the COVID crisis, many people were quarantined and telecommuting became the norm. US adults spend about 1400 hours per year on their cell phones and teenagers spend about 5000 hours per year. About 35% of us check our smartphones within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning and 70% of people admit that they use their smartphone during mealtime. Laptops are used more frequently than desktops.
With the increased usage of cell phones, tablets and computers comes increased harm to your neck. We are designed to have 3 main curves in our spine. The neck has a C shaped forward curve, the upper back has a backwards curve and the lower back has a forward curve. Your head should be balanced above your shoulders and ultimately above your hips, which is the optimal position for spinal health.
When people are on their devices, they have a tendency to look down at them instead of looking forward. This puts a lot of stress on the back portion of your neck and can actually decrease or reverse the normal curve of your neck. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the muscles and ligaments in the neck and also puts tension on the brain stem and spinal cord. This can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, headaches, and migraines. It can also lead to impaired cardiac function, decreased lung function, depression and other neurological problems.
So, what can you do to minimize the damage to your neck? Here are 3 easy tips:
- It is very important that when you are on your smartphone that you don’t look down. Try to hold your phone up so that you are looking straight forward at the screen. There is a device called a Pop socket that you can attach to the back of your phone which makes it easier to hold at eye level. Find a way to prop up your tablet so your head is level as you are reading. Place your laptop on a stand on a desk so that you are not hunched over while looking at the screen. Looking forward, rather than down, will help maintain the normal C curve in your neck.
- Take frequent breaks. Avoid being on your phone or tablet for long periods of time. Your eyes, neck and brain need a break.
- Take time to stretch your neck, gently stretching from side to side as well as backwards so that you are looking up. Roll your shoulders forward and backwards to relieve muscle tension.
There are fast and easy ways to counteract the effects of Text or Tech neck in order to help your C curve maintain its form. Using these strategies can help your overall spinal health.