Are you reading this on a smartphone or tablet? After you read this sentence, lift your head and look up for at least 10 seconds.
Seriously. Go do it.
We don't mean to come across as bossy. We just want to help reduce your risk of developing text neck.
What is Text Neck?
Text neck is a common ailment that affects tech-savvy users of all ages, from kids to senior citizens. Teens are notorious for spending excessive amounts of time on their phones, but we treat patients with text neck who are only in elementary school. Even toddlers can develop text neck if their parents regularly park them in front of an iPad or Kindle.
Sometimes text neck causes minor aching or tightness. Other times, it sends excruciating pain down your neck or into your shoulder blades. It can also cause severe headaches.
Minor cases of text neck may resolve with rest, at-home ice therapy and lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, text neck often requires professional treatment. Failing to treat text neck quickly may result in long-term pain or nerve damage.
Luckily there are things you can do to minimize the effects of technology on your health. If you can't part with your digital devices, try these 7 tips to avoid text neck.
Tip 1: Take Frequent Breaks
Remember how we asked you to look away earlier in this blog post? Text neck occurs when your neck remains in a downward position for too long. Moving your neck out of that position, even briefly, helps reduce your risk of developing text neck.
There are different ways to take breaks when texting or doing other activities on a mobile device. For starters, we recommend looking up each time you send a text, post a Tweet, or update your Facebook status.
You should also set down your phone or tablet for a few minutes at a time if you frequently use electronic devices. Ideally, you should take a break after 5 minutes of continuous use. If you can't bring yourself to do that, try taking a break every 15 to 20 minutes.
Tip 2: Perfect Your Posture
Stand in front of a mirror and visualize yourself drawing a vertical line from your shoulder to your ear. Repeat this with each side of your body.
Is your imaginary line straight or squiggly? Squiggly lines equal bad posture.
Sometimes bad posture comes from spinal misalignment, even if you don't have text neck. If your posture needs improvement, contact us. We can pinpoint issues that cause poor posture as well as offer tips on correcting your form.
Tip 3: Utilize Stands
Our necks aren't designed to look down for long periods of time. If you have an all-night Netflix binge or a lengthy FaceTime call planned, use a stand for your device.
Position your stand so that your device is at eye level. This eliminates the need for bending and straining while you're on your phone or tablet.
Tip 4: Switch to a Computer
Pounding out a lengthy message takes forever on a smartphone. Try sending long emails or Facebook messages from a computer instead of sharing your thoughts with your thumbs.
You should also use a computer if you plan to spend a significant amount of time playing an online game, finding the perfect dinner recipe or reading detailed articles and blog posts. Give your neck the break it deserves and limit lengthy online tasks to your computer.
Tip 5: Call Instead of Texting
Texts are great for "Thinking of you!" and "Have a safe drive home!" messages. They aren't ideal for long conversations with your partner or detailed business proposals.
Before you type out a text, ask yourself if your message will require a lot of back-and-forth interaction. If the answer is yes, make a phone call instead of sending a text.
Tip 6: Use Talk-to-Text Features
Let's be honest: some of you skimmed right past the tips about using a computer and making phone calls. If you can relate, then tip #6 is just for you.
As we discussed earlier, typing a lengthy text or social media update puts pressure on your neck. You can prevent some of that pressure by sending audio messages or using talk-to-text features to send messages.
It may take a few tries to get the hang of your talk-to-text feature, especially if you are sick or speak quietly. Also, keep in mind that you may have to tell your phone when to insert punctuation such as commas and periods when you use a voice-texting function.
Tip 7: Seek Help if Needed
Many people know that substances such as nicotine, alcohol and narcotics are addictive. But did you know cell phone addiction is also an issue many people battle?
Cell phone addiction can destroy your personal relationships and affect your work habits, but it can also damage your body. If you find it hard to put down your phone, seek help from an addiction specialist.
What If I Already Have Text Neck?
Our friendly, educated medical team treats patients with text neck. Give us a call or schedule a free consultation online to learn more about how we can reduce or eliminate your neck pain. We have eight offices with day and evening hours to fit your busy lifestyle.