You probably love many of your phone’s features, but you’re not so crazy about the aching neck and other discomforts that come along with long hours of talking, texting, and browsing. In fact, mobile technology has created an epidemic of health issues for frequent users.
Much of the trouble is caused by looking down for prolonged periods of time. Medical experts say that for every inch you lean your head forward, you double the load on your neck. In other words, your 12-pound head exerts about 60 pounds of pressure when it’s at a 60 degree angle.
These effects are compounded by the amount of time many of us spend on our devices. The average smart phone user logs 4.7 hours a day of screen time. If you’re looking for some relief, try these tips for reducing the strain on your body while you’re on your phone.
Preventing and Treating Text Neck
- Hold your head up. Experiment with alternatives to lowering your head. Try holding your phone near your face instead of your chest. If that’s awkward, cast your eyes down without moving your head.
- Adjust your posture. Crunching your chin against your chest rounds your shoulders and creates wear and tear on your upper spine. Relieve the pressure by lowering your shoulders and pulling them back while you stand tall.
- Strengthen your core. Firm abdominal muscles will help too. Do some leg raises or play volleyball.
- Stretch out. Text neck is a sign that your muscles are growing shorter and tighter. Limber them up with yoga or simple head and shoulder rolls. Create space between your shoulders and lengthen your neck.
- Move around. Walk in place while you’re talking. Switch your phone from hand to hand to reduce repetitive strain.
- Drink water. Being hydrated will keep your body tissues more supple. Carry a water bottle with you to work. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Foods with high water content, like celery and salad greens, count too.
- Book a massage. A professional massage will work out the kinks. If you’re on a low budget, you can rub your neck yourself.
- See a physical therapist. For more intense treatment, see your doctor. They may refer you to a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Preventing and Treating Other Technology-Related Aches
- Type differently. Texting can strain your thumb as well as your neck. Practice letting your other fingers do some of the work.
- Rest your eyes. Staring at phones, computers, and TVs can contribute to eye strain. Look off into the distance for a few minutes every half hour or so. If your eyes feel dry, blink rapidly or rub them gently.
- Set a curfew. Bright screens stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Shut off all your devices at least two hours before bedtime.
- Talk with your kids. Older teens and young adults tend to spend even more time on the phone. Your kids have a better chance of avoiding back pain in the future if you model good posture and limit your time online.
- Balance your life. Speaking of limiting your time online, there’s some evidence that we tend to underestimate the time we spend with our phones. You may feel more relaxed if you disconnect for at least an hour each day.
Hang onto your smart phone while you rid yourself of text neck and other modern ailments. Good posture and appropriate medical care can keep you fit while you stay connected to your family, friends, and the rest of the world.