There’s a term for that pain you feel at the base of your neck that crops up after staring at your phone too long. It’s called “text neck.” According to WebMD, if left untreated, it could cause wear and tear up and down your spine. How does that happen?
When your head is tilted down to any degree, the weight of your head feels compounded. The general numbers look like this:
- Straight ahead: Your head weighs an average of 12 lbs
- Tilted at 30 degrees: Your head feels like it weighs 40 lbs
- Tilted at 45 degrees: Your head feels like it weighs 49 lbs
That extra pressure on your spine might not feel like much weight at first, but after a while, it will manifest in neck tension. Habitual bad posture could also result. And in extreme cases, you could get a slipped or herniated disc.
How prevalent is this problem? A study by Deloitte showed that Americans check their phones more than 8 billion times a day. That averages out to about 46 checks per person, although more checking is done by those between the ages of 18 and 24. And what’s the usual posture for looking at your phone? You guessed it. The head is in a tilted position. Smartphones aren’t the only culprit for “text neck.” People who use laptops also have their heads in this downward / forward tilt.
So how can anyone hope to combat text neck with such odds stacked against them? And what steps can you take to prevent neck tension and keep your spine and neck healthy?
1. Stop texting. Start talking.
You won’t be putting your phone down altogether. But instead of texting, consider giving that person a ring. Use speaker phone if you need to be hands-free. Also, try hiding your text app. Delete Facebook messenger on your phone, or make it difficult to get to. And stop reaching for your phone as your first line of defense against boredom. Or if none of this seems workable, try texting while holding your phone right in front of your eyes. You might feel so ridiculous that you end up putting your phone away.
2. Keep in tune with your body.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you important things. Listen to what it is saying to you. As soon as you begin to feel that tightness or stiffness around the base of your neck and shoulders. Stop. Take a break. For those of us who have been ignoring our body’s signals for too long, you may need to set a timer to remind yourself to get up and stretch. Stretching your shoulder and neck muscles can help to ease that tense, tight feeling.
3. Strengthen your core muscles.
Having strong core muscles goes a long way to maintaining good spine and neck health. Your core muscles are the muscles in your lower back, abdomen, hips, and pelvic area. A strong core can also help to curb the fallout of too much time on your phone. Pilates fitness routines are known to target your core muscle group. Yoga also has many positions where your core gets a workout. Strengthening this area will result in a spine that is stronger and better able to handle the various pressures that daily life puts on the spine.
How to deal with “text neck” pain using an at-home massager
WebMD says one way to treat “text neck” is by utilizing the benefits of massage. And we agree. As do many other studies and sources. When the muscles along the base of your neck have been strained, one surefire way to find relief is through massage. For many people, being able to find neck tension relief in the comfort and privacy of their own home is the answer to their neck-pain woes. Most massagers cost less than one session with a massage therapist, so they are a safe investment in your well-being.
One example of this type of massager is the Quattro Pro Massager. This massager was created by Dr. Marc Rosenberg, DC, in response to the need for a clinical-level tool that could target tense spots. The Quattro Pro Massager consists of a double arch with three grips. At the end of each arch is a wheel that can be placed on the inside or outside position, depending on the muscle group you wish to target. The wheels are also removable and heatable to allow for heat therapy. On the wheels themselves, there are ridgepoints that feature “Dig Point Technology,” used to “dig” out tension spots. As you research a massager that is best suited to your needs, keep in mind that all are not created equal. You’ll want to find a tool that is recommended or created by a doctor or other medical professional.
If you find that your pain does not subside after trying the tips listed here, visit your chiropractor. While “text neck” is a leading and common cause for neck pain, it is not the only cause. Ensure your quality of life by listening to your body and getting help as needed.