Mobile phones and computers have taken over our lives. There are several benefits that these devices help us with. From keeping us connected and entertained to letting us work from anywhere in the world, computers and phones have changed our lives in a lot of ways. However, no technology is ever without its side effects. If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably looking down at your smartphone screen or hunched over the PC. When that is your posture for a long time, it can lead to several physical problems. One such problem is known as text neck.
What Is Text Neck?
If you work long hours in front of the computer or spend most of the day looking at your phone screen, you will experience stiff neck. This stiffness in the neck is medically termed as “text neck,” something you get when your head is looking down for a long time, whether you’re reading a book or texting someone.
A large section of the population suffers from text neck today, although not many are aware that the condition has a name. Text neck can happen to anyone, whether or not you use a phone. Whenever your head is tilted forward for a long time, you will get a feeling of stiffness in the neck. You could be chopping vegetables, watching videos on your phone, or writing in bed– a tilted head gives rise to a stiff neck. This is what is called text neck.
Why Does It Happen?
We know we get text neck when our head remains tilted for a long time, leading to bad posture. But why exactly does this happen?
As common knowledge suggests, the head is the heaviest part of the human body. An average human head weighs at least 10 pounds (or 4.5 kilograms). In comparison, the neck is much lighter and leaner. As long as the head remains in the right posture, the weight of the head remains balanced on the neck. However, the pressure becomes uneven when the head is tilted, leading to various problems, such as text neck. Stiffness in the neck is often the first symptom of spondylitis and can lead to more severe spinal problems if not treated in time.
To find out how much pressure is exerted by the head on the neck, take a ten-pound ball and fix it on a stick. As long as the ball is straight, the stick finds it easy to balance the weight. The moment you tilt the ball, the stick starts to bend and crack under pressure.
Fixing and Preventing Text Neck
While your neck may not break from the pressure of your tilted head, it can lead to muscle stiffness and soreness. The digital age has made it possible for everyone to work on the computer. On the downside, the longer you spend hunched over the computer, the worse your text neck gets. In most cases, people don’t realize they have a problem. But if you realize that you have a chronic stiff neck problem, you must take steps to fix it. But the same devices that give us stiff neck can be used to prevent it.
There are several apps available today that can detect the angle of your head and ask you to correct your posture. One such app shows a picture of a head in the notification bar; when the head turns red it means you need to straighten your head, and if the head is green, it indicates good posture. These apps generally work by detecting the tilt of your phone, as that is associated with the tilt of your head. Although this isn’t a perfect solution, it does help you to remind from time to time to correct your posture while using your device.
You can also use the voice command on your phone to reduce the need for looking at the screen. Every phone has a certain type of voice command available, the most common being ‘OK Google.’
Stretching is one of the best exercises to combat text neck. Adding core strengthening exercises to your workout regime and stretching your neck at work or while using your phone are some good ways to fight the stiffness. To make the stretching regular, add reminders on your phone at certain intervals that will alert you to stretch. Every few minutes, lifting your head and stretching your neck is of great help.
In not so severe cases, the above measure can keep text neck under control. However, if the symptoms persist, a medical evaluation should be done to rule out underlying causes.