I see a lot of clients that complain of carrying their stress and tension in their neck and shoulder area. While stress can certainly be a factor, what they are really experiencing is called Text Neck. Text Neck is a term to describe a new ailment of cervical spine repetitive injury that affects over 75% of the population. The cause is due to poor posture from looking down at phones, tablets and computers for extended periods of time.
This forward flexion puts abnormal strain on the neck muscles and tendons which can cause them to spasm or even tear. When your head is perfectly upright and your spinal curvature is good your head weighs roughly 8 pounds. As soon as you start bringing your head forward it exponentially increases in weight. While looking down at your phone texting for an extended period of time your head can weigh up towards 42 pounds. This is not actual weight as your head is not gaining mass, but merely a representation of the extra work your muscles are doing to maintain the balance of your head.
Another way to look at it is if you held a bottle of water. When your arm is relaxed and up against your torso it’s fine; you barely notice the weight, but when you begin to stretch out your arm and hold the water out for an extended period of time it becomes heavier. The water itself is still the same weight, but your muscles become fatigued and have to work harder to maintain the posture making it feel like the water weighs more than it really does.
Symptoms of Text Neck include but are not limited to upper back pain, shoulder tightness and pain, and radiating pain down the arms into the hands. If left untreated, Text Neck can gradually turn into more permanent imbalances such as kyphosis and even Dowager’s Hump. Your body tries to cater to this additional stress by adding and thickening the connective tissues, bones, and joints at the base of your neck then these tissues just continue to accumulate over time.
There is hope! Holding your cell phone or other device up higher to eye level will help improve posture. Take frequent breaks from your phone or computer to get up and move around. If you work in an office, ensure that your screen is fixed so that you are looking forward with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine.
Lastly, massage has been proven to help reduce the pain and help retrain the muscles to improve their strength. Massage will also relieve additional stress and tension. Your first massage session you will notice immediate relief from the pain; however, it will require repeated sessions to help retrain the postural muscles. Call me today and schedule your Massage by Jeremy. Based on your needs and goals we can develop a treatment plan that works best for you.
Life doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. Live Feeling Better!
Warm wishes for health and happiness,
Jeremy Dickerson, LMT