Weekly Rehab Minute: 'iPosture: Could Your Phone be Causing Your Neck Pain?'
We’ve all found ourselves sitting like this: shoulders hunched forward, neck strained with head close to phone squinting at a small screen, and thumbs furiously typing away. Tech neck, or forward head posture, as clinicians call it, has become a significant problem in the 21st century, and like cellular devices, it does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Forward head posture occurs when your head is positioned so that your ears are in front of your shoulders instead of directly above them. The average human head weighs 10-15 pounds, and while a couple of inches doesn’t seem like much, for every inch forward your head is positioned, an additional 10 pounds of stress is added to the neck muscles. Texting places the head on average 3 inches ahead of the shoulders, adding over 30 pounds of stress and strain to the cervical spine and musculature.
To put this into perspective I invite you to imagine you are holding a bowling ball in two different positions: first with your arms outstretched in front of you, and second with your elbows tucked close to your body. You would quickly find that the further the bowling ball is away from your body, the more difficult it is to maintain for long periods of time. Neck and upper back muscles undergo the same time of strain as they struggle to hold your forward positioned head up against the forces of gravity. Repetitive overuse of these muscles can cause pain and stiffness that extends from the neck, shoulders, and mid-back. Pain may be dull or sharp in nature and can frequently lead to chronic headaches.
Luckily there are several steps you can take to remedy your tech neck:
- Sit up – simply becoming more aware of your posture and correcting it when able can take some of the stress and strain off of your neck muscles
- Hold your phone up – bring your phone up to eye level
- Stretches – stretching the sore, tight neck muscles can improve range of motion and posture, relieving stiffness and pain
Neck Stretch #1: Chin Tuck
Move your chin towards your chest, holding for 5 seconds as you feel a comfortable stretch from your neck to the base of your skull.
Repeat 10 times.
Neck Stretch #2: Side Bending
Tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear close to the shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head farther into the stretch. Hold 30 seconds.
Bring your head back to the center, and then tilt it to the left, again holding 30 seconds.
Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
Neck Stretch #3: Side-to-Side Head Rotation
Rotate your chin towards your right shoulder. Hold 30 seconds. You may use your hand to push your head farther into the stretch.
Bring your head back to the center, and then rotate it to the left, again holding 30 seconds.
Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
We Can Help You!
If you continue to have increased pain in your neck, then consider Physical Therapy treatment. Physical therapists can provide treatments to help ease the pain utilizing manual therapy technique or various modalities to decrease muscle tension and allow for more effective stretches. Along with reduction of pain, your physical therapist will work with your to develop a set of stretches and strengthening exercises that works best with your individual body to correct your posture. As a person improves, special exercises are used to strengthen muscles and stretch tight muscles and joints.
Tech can Neck be very painful and prevent work and recreational activity. Addressing it as soon as possible will heal it faster, cut down on medication use, and help a person get back to their passions in life.