In today's society we are tied to technology. In the office we're on the computer for hours on end. Out of the office we seem to have a gravitational pull to our phones, constantly checking for email updates, Facebook notifications, and where we are going to catch our next Pokemon (apparently). All of this technology is leading to, "Text Neck". Text neck is a recent diagnosis that has come about from this overuse and arguable addiction to our electronic devices. Sadly, this is something we have seen more frequently at Boulder Sports Chiropractic.
When a person spends an extended amount of time looking down at their phones with poor posture, the body is quick to adapt. Suddenly, your shoulders are rounded forward with an overly kyphotic (exaggerated curve) of the mid back, causing the head to move forward past the shoulders. Ideally, you should imagine your head as a bowling ball, balancing in the center of floating table, which for argument sake we will call your spine/shoulders. Little energy is required to keep the ball in the middle, as the force of gravity is evenly distributed. However, if you begin to tip the table forward, the ball will start to creep ahead towards the nearing edge. Unless an external force holds the ball on the table, we would lose it completely. Luckily in this scenario, our head is attached to our body, and our muscles are smart enough to prevent the head from toppling forward.
Unfortunately, staying in this position over stresses the muscles around our head, neck, and shoulders and can actually lead to postural sprains and strains of our ligaments and muscles respectively. With the forward head posture, we shorten our muscles underneath our skull (suboccipitals), along with our pec muscles which make up the front of the shoulder. The counteracting musculature (deep neck flexors, and mid trap/low trap/rhomboids) are often left overstretched with faulty firing patters. Headaches soon become the norm, while we slowly predispose our body to shoulder pain, dysfunctional breathing patterns, along with an increased risk of developing early arthritis and spinal disc injuries.
How to fix it:
1. Evaluate your workstation - If you work a desk job and have a poor setup, no amount of exercise and stretching can counteract 8 hours a day of poor posture.
2. Limit screen time - if you are constantly looking down at the phone, STEP AWAY! Use an app such as, Moment, to see just how many times you look at your phone a day and try to improve.
3. Stretch your pecs - If your pecs are too tight, you'll never get your shoulders and head in a good position. I like a simple stretch on the door frame. Open the door, put your forearm on the door frame, using your rear foot - push/fall into the open door way to get a focused stretch.
Posture is a habit, forward head posture is correctable and headaches are often preventable. Put down the phones and be aware of your posture throughout the day. For more information and question on how to treat and prevent the aches and pain associated with "text neck", talk with the providers at Boulder Sports Chiropractic.