‘Text Neck’ is also called ‘Turtle Neck’ posture or ‘Anterior Neck Syndrome’. It is a modern term that refers to the stress and pain in the neck caused by excessive use of a hand-held device for a sustained period. It was coined by the U.S. chiropractor Dr. DL Fishman.
The usage of handheld devices is increasing all over the world. Therefore, this condition is also getting increasingly widespread. The younger generation is especially vulnerable to this condition because of its propensity to use mobile phones.
There is limited research on any musculoskeletal disorders caused by excessive use of hand-held devices. However, neck pain is not the only disorder it can cause. It can also cause;
- Shoulder pain
- Headache / Migraine
- Upper back pain
- Increase Thoracic Kyphosis
People tend to slump forward and flex their head when using a smartphone for a prolonged period. A human head is not light in weight. Pressure on the neck increases with an increased tilt to the neck. The musculoskeletal structure in the neck ensures that it can sustain weird angles and increased pressure. However, increased and consistent pressure can cause mild to moderate neck pain.
The most common symptoms associated with ‘Text Neck’ are;
- Stiffness in the neck when moving it after prolonged use of a handheld device
- Pain localized to a single spot or diffused towards the lower neck
- Radiating pain in the shoulders and arms
- Weakness in the shoulder muscles
- Headache or migraine
Text Neck is not as dangerous as many other musculoskeletal disorders. However, prolonged exposure may lead to disc compression, early onset of arthritis, spinal degeneration, muscle weakness, loss in lung capacity, and increase thoracic kyphosis. Negligence can even force you to seek spine pain treatment.
Orthopedic Exercises for Text Neck Pain Relief
Experienced orthopedics (Spine physicians institute) have devised a few scientifically-proven exercises & treatments that can help prevent text neck. Incorporate these simple exercises into your daily routine and do them one to three times a day.
- Nodding Exercise
An exaggerated nod is a simple and effective exercise to counterbalance the text neck position.
- You can start by sitting at your desk or the floor with an erect back.
- Relax your shoulders and look up to the ceiling. Ensure your mouth is closed.
- Open your mouth and tilt your head a little more.
- Clench your jaw in this position and you may feel a stretch in front of your neck.
- Bring the head down and let your neck relax.
- Massage the sore muscles
You can repeat the exercise several times until the stiffness in your neck is gone.
- Downward Facing Dog Exercise
This is an excellent exercise to help open the rounded and tightened muscles. The soreness in the chest and shoulders happens due to excessive tech use. Downward facing dog exercise helps relieve those issues.
- Start by getting on all fours. Keep your legs straight.
- Lift your hips high while keeping your hands and feet firmly planted on the floor.
- Drop your head so your neck is in a long position.
- Take three deep breaths and then release.
You can repeat the exercise several times.
- Cat-Cow Exercise
Cat-cow exercise helps increase your spinal awareness.
- Start by getting on all fours. Keep your knees on the ground and your feet erect.
- Get into the ‘cat’ phase by curling your spine to the ceiling and tucking in the tailbone while exhaling. Bring your chin towards the chest.
- Get into the ‘cow’ phase by bringing your belly down towards the floor while inhaling. Broaden your shoulders and lift your chin towards the ceiling.
Repeat the exercise a few times while maintaining the pressure on the head and neck.
It is also called hand-to-foot exercise. It helps stretch the neck and hamstrings.
- Begin by standing completely erect.
- Bend down by keeping your legs straight.
- Lift the balls of your feet and slide your hands beneath them.
- Press your palm with the balls of your feet and relax your head. Breathe deeply before releasing.
Repeat the exercise a few times to get rid of the soreness.
- Chin Tuck Exercise
This is a simple exercise that can be done at your desk, any time of the day. It increases spinal awareness and helps pull your head into alignment with the spine.
- Begin by sitting up straight and an erect back.
- Align your chin parallel to the floor.
- Do not tilt your head and gently draw it back.
- Pull your head upward by elongating your neck as much as you can.
- Keep the jaw relaxed and hold the position for a deep breath.
Repeat the exercise to loosen your muscles and neck.
Text Neck is a very common musculoskeletal disorder, especially among the young generation. Prevention through exercise is the best thing you can do to combat this pain.