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Is your smart phone causing neck pain?

Is your smart phone causing neck pain?

As we spend more time on cell phones and other digital devices, constant ache can become a pain in the neck if we're not careful and mindful of our posture. Today, our Nepean physiotherapists offer advice on how to manage and prevent neck pain with stretches, exercise and physical therapy. 

Cell Phones & Neck Pain

If you've ever looked up from reading the news or chatting with friends on your cell phone after an hour or so and noticed increasing pain and soreness in your neck, back and shoulder areas, you may be feeling the negative effects of excessive cell phone use. 

This condition is referred to as "text neck" or "tech neck" and occurs as a result of the head and neck being in a flexed position, with the neck flexing forward as you use your cell phone to text, play games and perform other tasks.

This unnatural position increases the pressure and forces on the tendons, discs, ligaments and muscles in and around the neck, and can later lead to chronic neck pain, causing wear and tear on internal structures since the natural curvature of the neck is changed. 

While text neck is a relatively newly documented phenomenon, any activity that requires extensive or prolonged flexing of the neck can cause neck pain. 

When you drop your head, three things happen:

  1. Your neck moves forward.
  2. Your shoulders lift toward your ears or round forward. 
  3. Your shoulder and neck muscles contract or spasm. 

When positioned properly, neck muscles are designed to support the weight of your head, which is typically about 10 to 12 pounds. For every inch your head drops forward, the load on those muscles doubles. 

In addition to causing muscle pain, text neck can trigger other potential health concerns, including impaired lung capacity, as sitting in a slumped position inhibits the ability of your lungs to expand. Inhaling less oxygen also sends the message to your heart to pump harder so more blood can carry oxygen to the rest of your body. 

How can I relieve neck pain?

Here are some techniques and actions to consider that might help to relieve this pain: 

1. Cut back on using your cell phone. 

As our personal and professional lives blend and we spend more time on our phones, tablets and other digital devices, it's becoming more of a challenge to take breaks from them. However, time away from screens is necessary to protect our physical and mental health. 

Most phones are able to track your daily and/or weekly usage. Keep an eye on this - you might find it shocking to learn how much time you spent on your device at the end of the week! Working on a laptop (which most of us do for a good chunk of the day), reading or other activities that require us to flex our neck can also contribute to pain or discomfort. 

Along with cutting back on your overall cell phone use, try to take regular breaks - at least every 45 to 60 minutes. You may find it useful to get up, change your posture and exercise to help ease bodily tension. 

2. Hold your phone closer to eye level. 

Anything that helps to reduce stress on your neck, such as holding your head and neck in a more neutral position with your phone closer to eye level, can help reduce the onset of neck pain. 

3. Stretch your shoulders. 

Our physiotherapists at Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre often recommend our patients stretch their neck and shoulder muscles throughout the day, for good reason; stretching can help you maintain good posture and lower your risk of neck and back pain at the end of a long day hunched over your laptop or digital device at work. 

Here are some of our most common recommendations for stretches for a healthier neck:

  • Side Bending - Bend towards the side while slightly retracting your head and moving your ear towards your shoulder. Placing your hand atop your head, pull slightly to bend further. Hold this position for a few seconds before relaxing and repeating the motion for your other side. 
  • Scapular Retraction - Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, pull your shoulders backward and leave your arms at your side. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat these motions as necessary. 
  • Neck Retraction & Chin Tuck - Sit up, slightly tuck your chin and move your head backward. Keep looking straight without tilting your head back. Hold this position for a few seconds, then repeat. 

4. Engage in physiotherapy.

Are you already experiencing neck pain or text neck? At our physiotherapy clinic in Nepean, we offer physical therapy for neck pain, and bodily injuries. Our physiotherapists can help improve your mobility and quality of life by helping to reduce and manage pain. We can also assist in developing personalized, goal-oriented therapeutic exercise programs to help you recover and prevent potential future injuries. 

Physiotherapy at Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre 

If you spend as much time on digital devices including cell phones and tablets as most people do, counter conditioning such as awareness of your posture, stretching, exercise and physical therapy are important to help manage and reduce pain you may be feeling in your neck and other areas of your body. 

The physiotherapists at our physiotherapy center can help you get on the right track to improved health, less pain and a better quality of life. 

Are you wondering how our physiotherapist can help you reduce and manage back and neck pain? Let's discuss how we can assist.

We can help develop a physical therapy plan to help you stay healthy and heal from pain.

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Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.

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