Did you know people send an average of 250 million texts daily? Along with the convenience that technology provides, also comes the need to avoid or minimize injuries. This is particularly true of young people, who are still growing.
With the ever increasing daily use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and handheld games, chiropractors are seeing an increase in corresponding Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s), known by names like text neck and Blackberry thumb. RSIs are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that are often caused by repetitive activities, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained awkward positions.
What Is Text Neck?
Text neck shows itself as curved shoulders, head hanging forward and down and is caused by poor posture from being hunched over a mobile device for a long time. This prolonged poor posture is often related to chronic headaches, shoulder, neck pain and can have long term impact.
For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the backbone by an additional 10 pounds.
Physiology Of Joints & Technology
Young men and women are especially at risk as they are heavy users of advancing technology i.e. smartphones and handheld gaming devices.
Text neck and neck strain can cause postural abnormalities and change the growth pattern, especially in the spine.
Technology isn’t going anywhere, so how can we help our children minimize the risks? The trick is to stress the importance of posture and how to attain it, since text neck is a postural abnormality.
Chiropractic And Strong Posture
Recommendations To Avoid Text Neck
There are several things parents and young people can incorporate into their daily activities to alleviate the symptoms of text neck, related RSIs and fortify their posture:
- Sit up straight with chest out and shoulders back.
- Bring your arms up to eye level so you don’t have to look down to see the screen.
- If you must look down, tuck your chin into your neck instead of hanging your head forward.
- If you use your mobile device for extensive typing, consider investing in an external keyboard.
- Rest your forearms on a pillow while typing to minimize neck tension.
- Avoid using mobile devices in bright sunlight. Straining to see the screen often leads forward chin movement which, strain the head muscles.
Try For A Balanced Lifestyle
The best way to minimize the risk of RSIs related to mobile devices is to balance the use of these devices and all around techology.
Balance is critical. Encourage your child to take breaks from devices that are mobile and get regular physical activity to offset the effects of leaning over a smartphone, tablet or computer.
“You want to neutralize the stress,” says Doctor of chiropractic Brian Gushaty. “Strenuous physical activity for the upper body, such as racquet sports, can provide a good counterbalance for the strain caused by poor posture.”
Another key element is to introduce your child to a regular stretching program:
- Hand stretches and squeezing a stress ball can help fingers.
- Pull shoulder blades down and back to help alleviate neck and shoulder strain.
- Stretch the chest by standing up straight with arms down at your side. Turn forearms until thumbs are pointing at the wall behind you.
- Posture strengthening programs, like Straighten Up Alberta, is a fun, fast and effortless method to incorporate stretching into your daily routine.
If you are worried your child is suffering from a repetitive strain injury like text neck, speak to a health care provider. A chiropractor is trained to treat RSI’s in all age groups and can provide advice on achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle for your whole family.