A Florida chiropractor has coined a new condition: “text neck.” According to this article, the catchy term refers to an affliction plaguing social-savvy mobile users. In today’s digital, certain behaviours are negatively affecting many people’s posture, alignment and muscle health.
Think about it: Rarely do we sit upright and alert to our surroundings anymore- on buses and subway trains, in food courts and public benches, people are often seen hunched over, glued to a mobile device. We feel a compulsion to check our phones, update our social network statuses, and make ourselves available wherever we go.
It’s important that we start to acknowledge the consequences of these behaviours, which not only produce sore muscles, but also likely impact tension and stress levels. Is the inability to unplug or tune out –even temporarily on something as short as a bus ride-becoming a figurative and literal pain the neck?
Yes, it would seem it is.
Understanding these physical side effects can help us to alter our own behaviours and to make effective lifestyle recommendations to our patients. So what exactly is the observed physical toll of our socially and technologically-informed behaviours? According to Dr. Cornett, repeatedly carrying yourself in an abnormal position (such as craning your neck downwards while texting), manipulates and overworks certain muscles. This can cause a host of unwanted physical effects, including muscle spasms, pain and headaches.
Perhaps most alarming is the fact that we still don’t know whether or not these habits can cause long-term damage to the discs and joints. Although the texting phenomenon is just starting to gain attention as a chiropractic health concern, many injuries are sustained from repeated manipulations of the body on a seemingly innocuous day-to-day basis. Poor posture can cause noticeable damage to the spine. Sitting in an office chair can produce persistent lower back pain. And now, as we know, craning your head downwards in a constant need to connect with the virtual social world can strain your neck.
So if you’re a frequent texter, a contortionist sleeper, a jaw-clencher, or a sloucher…be mindful of how you carry yourself, and what it could mean for your chiropractic health.
To avoid “text-neck,” Dr. Cornett recommends the following:
> Reposition yourself. Try holding your phone in front of you so that it’s closer to eye level, rather than holding it down toward your waist.
> Take breaks. Lift your eyes periodically, roll your neck and stretch to avoid over-stressing your muscles.
> We add this challenge: Try to unplug daily. Look out the window or have a face-to-face interaction on your commutes. It just might elevate your head and your mood.