Every day I ride the R train into Manhattan, and I cringe as I watch everyone’s posture with their cell phones. The amount of patients we treat with neck pain has increased steadily over the last few years, and I believe cell phones have played a huge part in this problem. I use a cell phone daily as well, however, you have to be careful about HOW you use your device.
There is an old syndrome that has gotten a new name because of the use of these high tech devices. What was once called “forward head posture” is now being coined “tech neck!” Tech neck is an overuse injury that occurs as a result of looking down at your phone or laptop for extended periods of time. It is categorized as a posture/position in which your ear drum sits forward, in front of your shoulders. Many times this posture is associated with lower neck and upper back pain, rounded shoulders, and reduced neck and arm range of motion.
The muscles and joints in your neck are designed to hold the weight of your head - about 11lbs. As your head moves forward the weight of the head in effect changes due to gravity (think of holding a gallon of milk close to your body versus holding it with a straight arm out in front of you). This increase in weight of the head causes strain on the muscles designed to hold the head up. After a while, these muscles and tissues fail because too much is being asked of them over too long of a period of time. At this point pain and dysfunction set in and you come in to see us (Your AMAZING Physical Therapist!).
Prevent Tech neck from occurring by making a few simple changes in your day
Try setting time limits. For every 15 mins on your device take a 3 min break to look up and adjust your posture.
Try using a tablet or phone holder to reduce the amount of forward bending that takes place in your neck. Try to sit or stand all the way upright, and in this position keep the device as close to eye level as possible.
If you still are experiencing pain into the neck when using your device your muscles may have already quit on you. Call us today to help you correct your posture and wake up those sleeping neck muscles!