Written by Mr Ross Tomkins for Doctify

You’ve heard of tennis elbow, you may even have heard of dancer’s hip, but have you heard of text neck? Even if you haven’t, you may still be suffering from it.

Here to discuss this modern malady is Mr Ross Tomkins, a respected physiotherapist. Read on to find out to how to treat this and some other common millennial aches and pains.

How does using your phone cause neck aches?

Do you spend hours hunched over your phone, tablet or laptop, checking texts and emails? Do you also suffer from neck pain? There could be a connection. New research has found that slumping to read a text or study an email can put undue pressure on the neck. This is because bending the neck increases the pressure put on the spine.

The study found that bending the head at a 60 degree angle to look at a screen puts 27kg worth of pressure on the neck. At more than four stone in weight, that is heavier than the average seven year old! This extra pressure can lead to early degenerative changes and pain.

Is there any research to back this up?

Researchers found the amount of force on the neck increases with the degree it is bent. Tilting the head by 45 degree adds 22kg of force to the neck. A 30 degree neck tilt equals 18kg, while a mere 15 degrees puts an extra 12kg onto the spine. The loss of the ‘natural curve’ of the neck leads to increased stress. They concluded that, ‘While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.’

According to the researchers, bad posture is when the head is tilted forward and the shoulders drop forward in a rounded position. Good posture was defined as having ears aligned with the shoulders and the shoulder blades retracted. Previous studies have also linked bad posture to a number of health problems, including back aches, weight gain, constipation, heartburn, migraines, and respiratory conditions.

Good posture, on the other hand, has been shown to optimise physical and mental health. Experts advise that sitting up straight allows blood and oxygen to flow freely around the body, and leads to good digestion. It can also trigger the brain to send out more endorphins into the blood, which is one of the chemicals that helps to regulate our mood, while also reducing the stress hormone cortisol.

Top tips to help with pain

  • Put a sign at eye level in front of your desk reminding yourself not to slump when you are sitting.
  • When using your smartphone or tablet, hold it out in front of you at approximately mid-chest height, versus the awkward posture often seen which is holding your phone or tablet at waist level and too close to the body.
  • If you use a laptop more than 3-4 hours daily, it would be highly recommended to purchase a laptop stand and external keyboard and mouse to improve ergonomic setup, and reduce awkward posture risk factors.
  • Purchase and use a document holder to prop any paperwork you are using upright, instead of lying flat on your desk and reduce awkward sitting posture habits.
  • Think about nutrition. Research suggests eating 200mg of oily fish twice a week can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Keep hydrated
  • Stretch every so often at your desk and take regular micro-breaks from sitting
  • Persist. Retraining your muscles to keep you in an upright position can seem like hard work at first. However, the more you practice, the more natural and easy it becomes. This mobile, ‘head up’ posture quickly reduces and reverses the compression of nerves and blood vessels from the muscles between the neck and shoulders. It can also help to reduce discomfort in your upper back, neck, and shoulders.

 


 

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If you have been affected by anything mentioned in the above article and want to know more, you can contact Mr Tomkins by clicking the button below.

 

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