Forward head posture – or Text Neck as it’s otherwise known – is an increasingly common muscoskeletal complaint that results in pain in the neck and shoulders, especially among younger age groups. And a 5-year study focusing on young adults in Sweden strongly suggests it’s due to excessive use of mobile and tablet technology.
What causes Text Neck?
Looking at our skeleton’s alignment more closely, the average head weighs 8–12 pounds and balances on top of a relatively thin spinal column.
This skeletal alignment works for our bodies when the head is stacked over the spine. However, if the chin is dropped and the head is moved forward to any degree – a position that’s common among people who gather around mobile phones and tablets – the amount of weight the spine has to cope with increases drastically. It’s that extra weight which is problematic as it adds tension to the neck’s connective tissues, like muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. It can also affect the blood flow around the spine and neck, resulting in strain and pain.
How to avoid Text Neck?
It’s an unrealistic demand to banish mobile phone and tablet use altogether, especially when it’s become such an intrinsic part of ours and children’s lives (my nieces and nephews use the tablet for their homework, for instance). But you can be mindful when using technology, and we suggest taking a preventative approach.
- A simple way to avoid Text Neck is to keep your chest up, shoulders down and chin tucked in.
- Minimise the tilt of your head and neck by lifting your phone up to meet your gaze.
- If you’re sitting down, hold your phone away from you and use your eyes to look down rather than craning your neck.
- Adopt a good posture for the whole body and take regular breaks (follow the same principles as if you were setting up your desk for your home office).
If Text Neck persists, see your osteopath
In our increasing heads-down, technology-driven society, these are just some simple tips to help prevent Text Neck.
However, if you or your child are suffering from neck or shoulder pain and you think it could be related to looking down at technology, a good short-term fix is to take up activities that improve the mobility and flexibility of your neck and body, like swimming, yoga and pilates.
If the pain persists, make an appointment with one of our osteopaths. We will help resolve any soreness, improve movement in the area, and correct any postural changes that might have occurred. And of course, we’re all different. So a visit to your osteopath will give you some individualised advice, which really does go a long way.Back to blog