“Text neck” is a term used for a recurring postural issue arising in recent years all over the world. This day and age nearly everyone owns a smart phone, tablet, or other hand held electronic device, and spends a good amount of time using it.
The term refers to the neck pain and possible damage that you may get from staring down at a hand held electronic device for an extended period of time, more commonly known in the medical field as head forward posture. The average human head weighs approximately 12 pounds. However, as the head bends forward and an extensive amount of cervical flexion takes place, the weight on the cervical spine
 begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, that same 12 pound head is now roughly 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it increases to 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees the weight of the head is equal to 60 pounds on the cervical spine. The average smart phone user tilts their head between 30 to 60 degrees, which means they are placing between 27 to 60 pounds on their cervical spine, multiple times daily, if not for hours on end.

       Over time, the poor posture associated with head forward posture can lead to early spinal degeneration, chronic neck and back pain, and possible surgery later in life. It is estimated that teenagers average about 5,000 hours per year on their phones or other hand held devices, while adults clock in an average of 1,400. The newer generations of children will be at the highest risk for text neck related injuries later in life, as they are the first generation to be using these devices at such a young age. Neck and shoulder pain, chronic headaches, numbness in the arms, and some neurological issues have all been associated with head forward posture. Other than trying to simply limit the amount of time you spend on your hand held device, there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the side effects.

        The first is to be as mindful of your posture as you can be. Try keeping your head back, shoulders retracted, and hold your phone or tablet up at eye level about 1 foot in front of you. This will help to keep you in the ideal posture (shoulders retracted, ears over the shoulders) and will greatly limit the amount of strain felt in the back of the neck. There are also a few exercises you can do to help relieve some of the pain and tension that you may already be experiencing from your handheld usage.

             WALL ANGELS
1. Begin by standing with your back against a wall. Heels should be between 1 and 6 inches away from the wall, your palms facing out, and your forearms, glutes, shoulders, and head all firmly pressed against the wall.

2. Keeping your gaze straight ahead, slowly bring your arms straight out to your sides and up the wall. Make sure to fully reach and stretch as much as possible at the top of the movement.

3. Exhale as you slowly slide your arms back down the wall and return to your sides.

            Repeat this movement for a total of 10 times.  

           BAND UP AND OVERS
1. Grab a band (you can find them in most gyms these days) and hold it in your hands, palms down, a little wider than shoulder-width, and straight out in front of you.

2. Keeping the elbows straight, raise the band up and over your head and then as far down the back as possible.

3. Bring the band back up and over the head to the start position.

            Repeat this movement for a total of 20 times.

            BAND PULLS
1. Grab the band with the same palms down grip as the starting position with the band up and overs.

2. Pull the band apart by bringing the hands out to your sides, again keeping the arms straight.
It is important here to focus on using the muscles of your back to pull the band apart, and not your arms.

3. Slowly bring the band back to the un-stretched starting position.

            Repeat this movement for a total of 10 times.

        Foam rolling is also a good idea to help release tension that has built up in the neck and shoulders. When doing the foam rolling exercise, you will want to focus on the area between your shoulder blades, your lats (under the arms) and your neck. It is a little tricky rolling out the neck, so instead lie on your back with the foam roller under your neck like a pillow. Simply turn your head from side to side at varying angles to really get into all the posterior neck muscles.


Published by Michael Quinn