Is ‘Text Neck’ the Cause of My Rounded Shoulders?
The Rise of Mobile Phone Usage Globally is Leading to ‘Text Neck’
There's no denying that mobile phones have become a staple in our lives. We rely on them for everything, from keeping in touch with loved ones to getting directions to our next destination. But all that time spent staring down at our screens is taking a toll on our necks.
This condition, known as "text neck," is caused by the forward head posture we adopt when looking at our phones. This puts extra strain on the muscles and ligaments in our necks, leading to pain and stiffness.
The Impacts of ‘Text Neck’
1. Forward Head Posture & Rounded Shoulders
One of the most common posture problems today is forward head posture, and a significant contributing factor is ‘text neck’. When you spend hours each day looking down at your phone, tablet, or laptop, your neck muscles and spine adapt and adjust to that position. Over time, the muscles in the back of your neck can become shortened and tight, while the muscles in the front of your neck can become lengthened and weak. This imbalance can lead to a ‘forward head posture’ when your head starts slowly drifting forward and down. It also causes your shoulder blades to rotate forward and down, sinking your chest in and creating the appearance of rounded shoulders.
2. Increased Weight on the Spine & Neck
Our necks and spine muscles support the weight of our heads. When we look down at our devices, our muscles have to work harder to support the weight of our heads. Every inch your head leans forward adds 10 pounds to your spine. In metric, for every 2.5 cm forward your head stretches, it adds 4.5kg of weight to your spine. When excessive weight is placed on the spine for prolonged periods, it puts strain on the joints, muscles and nerves. This added pressure can lead to long-term problems such as herniated discs.
2 Tips to Improve Your Posture When Using Your Devices
1. The Nipple Rule
It can be challenging to break the old habit of holding your phone down, so at ATLAS, we have an easy rule you can follow: The Nipple Rule.
The rule is simple: always hold your phone above the line of your nipples. If you do, you will generally hold your head in a more neutral posture, taking the strain off your spine and nervous system. You may find some discomfort with this in the beginning. Firstly, it requires that you hold your arms up and use your muscles more than you are used to. But of course, we will fatigue from being in any position for too long, so the solution is to hold your phone in one hand, above the nipple line, and place the opposite hand underneath your phone-side armpit to prop the arm up.
2. Regular Stretching & Neck Strengthening Exercises
Stretching and neck strengthening exercises can help alleviate neck pain by improving flexibility and range of motion in the neck and shoulders while strengthening the muscles that support the neck.
Some examples of these exercises include neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and chin tucks. These exercises help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck, which can help to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with text neck while also preventing future injuries.
Untreated ‘Text Neck’ Can Have Long-Term Implications
If you don't take care of your ‘text neck’, it can lead to several long-term complications, including chronic pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to keeping your neck healthy in the long run.
ATLAS Chiropractic is dedicated to maximising your overall health. Find out how we can help by clicking the link below.
- Jason M. Cuéllar, MD, PhD, Todd H. Lanman, MD (2017). ‘“Text neck”: an epidemic of the modern era of cell phones?’, The Spine Journal, Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2017.03.009>
- Nesreen Fawzy Mahmoud, Karima A. Hassan, Salwa F. Abdelmajeed, Ibraheem M. Moustafa (2019). ‘The Relationship Between Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’, National Centre For Biotechnology Information, Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-019-09594-y>
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