Text neck is a reference to the position of the head and neck when we are texting. This usually involves excessive flexion of the neck and slumped shoulders. Something that you may start to notice is a headache at the end of the day, a tightness or deep ache in your mid-back, or the desire to rub your neck around and stretch it. These things happen because the body is in a high stress position, which causes the whole upper body to ache in pain. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to improve your posture while using our phone or reading a book, which can reduce the aches and pains associated with them.
Let’s use an analogy to explain this “Text Neck.” Imagine your head is a bowling ball. Imagine your neck is your hand and forearm holding up that bowling ball. With proper posture, the hand and forearm are in a backwards “C” position, with the fingers underneath the bowling ball, and the ball sitting nice and snug in your hand (facing the ceiling). Now, lets start moving into the common posture position: neck flexion and rolled over shoulders. The bowling ball is now either facing straight out or starting to fall out of your hand. Your fingers grab on for dear life. The muscles in your hand and forearm tense up, doing everything they can to hold on. Now imagine staying in that position for minutes, or even hours. Think about the short-term effects: sore and achy muscles, achy joints, hand cramps, etc. What about long-term effects: Those muscles become hypertonic (tight), muscles not being uses over a long time become inactive, injury, weakened muscles, etc.
This is what is happening to your neck and upper back on a consistent basis. In a healthy posture, the head is balanced over the shoulders and all 4 spinal curves. With every inch that you move your head forward, you increase the weight that you must support by 10lbs. The fingers represented the suboccipital muscles, which are muscles that connect the head to the 1st and 2nd vertebrae of the spine. If these muscles stay on constant tension, they become chronically tight, resulted in neck pain and headaches. The hand and forearm represent the lower neck and mid back. The joints of these areas become fixated and the muscles become tight and achy. Think about it, we all upper neck pain and tight traps (shoulders). The neck flexor muscles (muscles in the front of the neck) become weak and inactive, which results in a more difficult road to hold the head up. Consequently, we compensate this poor neck posture with excessive slumping in our lower back or other various unhealthy postural habits. This leads to short term aches and pains, and long term issues without a singular moment of injury.
But there is great news. This can all be changed with adjustments, soft tissue work, and the correct stretches and exercises. Chiropractic adjustments can restore the restricted joints of the upper neck and mid back. Soft tissue work can relieve the tight muscles of the upper neck and traps. Stretches and exercises can restore the strength of the neck flexors and restore your body to a healthy posture.
What can I do at home?
Cervical Range of Motion: Chin retractions and protractions with a side to side bend and rotational movements.
Shoulder blade retractions: While laying on your back, place a rolled up towel in between your shoulder blades. Squeeze the towel with your shoulder blades and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10.
Neck Flexor Exercise: While laying on your back, tuck your chin in and raise your head 2 inches off the floor. The goal is to hold for 15 seconds at a time.
Pec stretch: While laying on your back, place a foam roller (or rolled up pillow) in between your shoulder blades. Bring your arms straight out to make the letter “T” and let gravity stretch your pecs. Arms can be straight or bent and should be performed at 3 different angles, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, and 135 degrees.