Computers, cell phones and tablets have become an integral part of our lives. But when we are constantly looking at a smartphone screen, it puts a lot of strain on the cervical spine. What is smartphone neck and how to treat this condition?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at a table, couch, or other comfortable place. Pay attention to your posture, especially your shoulders and head. Is your head tilted forward? Did you know that such a neck position increases the load on the cervical spine 5 times?
For comparison: in the normal, straight head position the load on the cervical spine is about 5 kg. Even at a forward angle of 45 degrees, the cervical spine experiences a load of about 25 kg. How often during the day, consciously or unconsciously, do you look at your smartphone and tilt your head forward? It turns out that this happens too often, which leads to a condition called smartphone neck.
Smartphone neck – what is it?
Kenneth Hansraj, a neurosurgeon from New York, conducted a study that found that using a cell phone while walking puts a particular strain on the spine. Between 700 and 1,400 hours spent browsing on a smartphone in this position each year can cause serious postural and spinal problems
Smartphone neck has a wide variety of symptoms. Neck pain, neck stiffness, tension headaches, dizziness and tinnitus. Of course, such symptoms can also accompany degenerative changes.
However, muscle tension is the main cause of neck problems – due to poor daily posture or cramps caused by stress. The problem often leads to a vicious circle: to avoid pain, the victim adopts a bad posture. However, this only makes the symptoms worse.
It is necessary to stop this process, and it is best not to let the changes go far and realize that there is a problem. Think about it, do you really need to check the message or messages on a small display every time?
Follow some simple smartphone rules to reduce cervical spine strain:
- use eye movement instead of tilting your head forward,
- when sitting at a table, optimize your position by supporting your shoulders to reduce tension,
- we also recommend vigorous exercise to engage all the muscles of the body
1. Forward tilt –tilt your chin down as if you want to touch your sternum with it.
2. Inverted nod – tilt your head back as much as possible, but try to keep the back of your head pointed up
3. Ear to shoulder – try to reach your ear to your shoulder. Do the movement first to one shoulder, then the other. Then turn your head as if to look behind you, also in each direction in turn. By doing these exercises, you can check your range of motion and whether you feel pain with them. This is the surest test of neck functionality.
4 additional tips to help you avoid smartphone-induced neck pain
1. Look forward
Hold your device at eye level. This will minimize neck flexion and maintain optimal spinal posture. If your device is below eye level, look down with your eyes, not your neck.
2. Control your posture
When sitting and using the device, try to maintain a curve in your lower back. If you must use the device for long periods of time, try to find a chair to lean on and a surface to rest your hands on. Avoid holding the device on one side of your body with your neck rotated or holding the phone between your ear and shoulder.
3. Take breaks
Take frequent micro-breaks to stretch your neck and back. Limit your use to 20-minute sessions. Consider making a phone call instead of spending a lot of time texting.
Try stretching while taking micro-breaks.
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