Do you ever ask yourself why your neck is so stiff, or why you have that nagging headache that doesn’t seem to want to go away? Neck pain is a common complaint for Canadians that can range from mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating. You’re probably aware that poor posture, hunching over a computer, or falling asleep on the sofa can cause your neck pain. But did you know your smartphone might be to blame?
How prolonged use can cause strain
According to a recent poll by Forum Research, more than a quarter of Canadians use a mobile device at least two hours a day.1 Over the span of a week, that’s 14 hours spent texting, calling and swiping.
So what exactly is happening to your neck while you’re staring at your smartphone? It all has to do with the angle of your head. When you’re sitting or standing in a neutral position, looking forward, your head weighs between 10-12 lbs. As you begin to tilt your head forward 15 degrees, you put stress on your neck, increasing the pressure to 27 lbs. By the time you angle your head 60 degrees to stare at your smartphone, the pressure equates to a whopping 60 lbs. That’s a lot of strain on your neck and spine!
Tips to relieve pain
What can you do to protect your spine and relieve neck pain? We know you can’t completely disconnect from your smartphones – many of us use our devices for work, to stay connected with distant friends and family, and as a source of entertainment after a long day. But there are small changes you can make to reduce the strain over time.
Dr. Sean Lamasz, DC, recommends the following tips to manage “Text Neck:”2
Lift your phone up to eye level
“A simple way to help prevent neck pain associated with these devices is to avoid bending your neck forward,” advises Dr. Lamasz. “Looking at your phone while sitting at your desk? Lean on your elbows, bringing your phone to eye level, allowing you to keep your neck in its neutral position.”
Take a break
Dr. Lamasz suggests implementing the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes on your mobile device, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet ahead, which will neutralize your spine.
Stretch it out
If you’re looking for something you can do to instantly relieve neck pain, try these eight simple stretches:
Your chiropractor can help
These stretches are often best practiced in combination with manual therapy. Your chiropractor will recommend a course of treatment specific to you which may include spinal adjustments, joint mobilization, muscle release techniques, muscle stimulation, therapeutic exercises, and lifestyle advice.
1Powers, Neil. “Half of Young Canadian Adults Spend Two or More Hours per Day on Their Cellphones.” Financial Post, 26 Feb. 2018, business.financialpost.com/telecom/half-of-young-canadian-adults-spend-two-or-more-hours-per-day-on-their-cellphones.
2Lamasz, Sean. “8 Easy Stretches to Manage ‘Text Neck.’” Dr. Sean Lamasz, Dr. Sean Lamasz, 14 Feb. 2019, www.drseanlamasz.com/blog/2019/2/14/text-neck.