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Are you suffering from text neck syndrome?

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc., on 15 December 2016, Muscle and joint
text-neck-syndrome

Let’s face it: if you live in North America, you are probably guilty of spending too much time in front of electronic screens.

The repeated use of electronic devices influences our posture, and can have other impacts on our health.

Using these devices typically requires a head-forward-and-down position, which increases the stress on the neck and may lead to musculoskeletal problems….

From tablets to smartphones to laptops, there’s an electronic gadget that can meet all your needs. Nearly 8 in 10 Canadians are online, and the vast majority of these users use the Internet daily. In 2014, the average Canadian spent about 2.5 hours a day watching Internet video or using mobile devices, according to data from comScore.

Not surprisingly, the 25-to-34 year-old demographic beat all other demographics for the most time spent online, spending an average of 110 hours each month using various electronic devices.

The text neck syndrome

” Text neck,” a recent phenomenon, is the early wear-and-tear on the spine caused by poor posture during use of smartphones. As the head bends forward, so too does the weight on the cervical spine. Chronic poor posture when using smartphones can lead to structural problems of the cervical and lumbar spine, their ligaments, and in serious cases can result in surgery.

But there are other long-term effects on the body as well. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, the structural problems caused by faulty posture can lead to respiratory dysfunction. Smartphone users also tend to report pain in the shoulder, neck, and thumb – pain that is proportional to the amount of time spent on the device.

How does one help prevent or slow the progression of text neck syndrome?

Below are some helpful, healthy lifestyle approaches you can take to improve your posture and reduce your pain:

  • Limit time using your phone. If you are able to complete your task by using a desktop instead, especially one that has ergonomic support, ditch the phone and your associated neck ache for this more supportive option. When using your smartphone, try holding it at eye level as much as possible.
  • Exercise can positively impact your posture, as well as neck and shoulder pain, in a number of ways. Shedding some pounds, especially fat around the abdomen, can reduce frontward pressure placed on the back. Training postural muscles including the rhomboids, lower traps, and teres can help maintain an upright trunk and spine. Try incorporating high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) and strength training into your workout routines.
  • Stretch your neck muscles. Despite that some neck muscles are weak from chronic downward gazing, it is important to maintain flexible muscles to minimize strain on the spine.
  • Get symptomatic relief. If you are experiencing joint or muscle pain due to text neck syndrome, try applying Absolüt Arnica Gel to the affected area to help soothe pain and inflammation.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Ensure you are eating a healthy, clean diet and maintaining a healthy BMI. Adequate macro and micronutrient intake is imperative for helping support muscles and for keeping inflammation in the cervical spine at bay.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756000/
https://www.chiropractic.on.ca/public/your-back-health/text-neck-avoid-strains-pains/
https://cira.ca/factbook/2015/the-canadian-internet.html

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