Are you affected by neck pain? Are you reading this article on your phone? With smart phones in almost everyone’s hands, neck pain is on the rise. Do you know some medical doctors and chiropractors are actually using the term “text-neck” as a diagnosis? Yes, you heard me correct, text-neck. What the term actually means is forward head posture causing increased stress in the cervical spine (neck). Because of the overuse of smart phones and texting, people are looking down at their mobile devices for longer periods of time. Over time, this causes the head to jut forward increasing the weight and load on the joints of the neck. If this particular posture continues, it can cause straightening or reversal of the natural curvature in the neck.
The same is true for regular computer users. When sitting at a computer for 8+ hours a day, the head tends to come forward, the shoulders roll forward and the muscles of the neck and upper back are over stretched while the muscles of the chest are shortened and tightened.
When the head is in line with the spine and directly over the shoulders, the cervical spine is able to distribute the weight of the head evenly throughout the joints. This however, is not true when the head is in front of the shoulders.
Imagine holding an 8-12 pound bowling ball with two hands close to your body. Now imagine holding that same ball with your arms stretched out in front of your body. Which is harder?
Holding the ball out in front of your body is much harder than keeping it close against the body. The same is true for your head (bowling ball) and cervical spine (arms). When your head is in front of your shoulders, the muscles of the neck and upper back have to work harder to hold it up. This is one of the most prevalent causes of upper back and neck pain.
I’m not telling you that you will have to quit your desk job or stop texting (although cutting back may help) to alleviate your neck pain. I will give you some tips you can practice instead.
Regular massage: From your favorite therapist.
Posture Awareness: Your ears should line up with your shoulders and your hips….all day, every day.
Cervical Ranges of Motion: Go through the following 6 ranges, 2-3 times/day: tuck your chin to your chest (flexion), look up to the ceiling (extension), bend your ear to your shoulder, both sides (lateral flexion), turn your chin to your shoulder, both sides (rotation). The key is to go until you feel restriction, but not past it! Hold for 5-10 seconds. Do NOT force the motion.