Did you know Canadians send an average of 250 million texts per day?! Along with the convenience that advancing technology provides comes the need to minimize the risk of injury. This is especially true of young people, whose bodies are still developing.
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, also known by names such as ‘text neck’ and ‘Blackberry thumb’. Repetitive strain injuries are injuries of the muscles, joints and nerves that are often caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, or sustained or awkward positions.
What is Text Neck?
Text neck is an overuse syndrome that results from excessive strain on the spine and surrounding muscles from looking in a forward and downward position at a handheld device for long periods of time. Headache, upper back, shoulder and neck pain are associated with maintaining this posture for an extended period of time, day after day.
As the head moves forward, its centre of gravity changes and the head becomes a heavier strain on the spine and surrounding muscles.
Young people are especially at risk as they are heavy users of smartphones and handheld gaming devices. Text neck and neck strain can cause postural abnormalities and changing growth patterns, especially in the upper spine.
Technology isn’t going anywhere, so how can we help our children minimize the risks?
Since text neck is a postural abnormality, the key is to stress the importance of strong posture and how to achieve it.
Tips to Avoid Text Neck
- 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 to jutting the chin forward, straining the muscles that support the head.
The best way to minimize the risk of repetitive strain injuries related to mobile devices is to limit use of these devices.
Encourage your child to take regular breaks from mobile devices and get regular physical activity to offset the effects of leaning over a smartphone or tablet.
If you are concerned your child is suffering from a repetitive strain injury like text neck, talk to a health care provider. Your Chiropractor is trained to treat repetitive strain injuries in all age groups and can provide advice on achieving a balanced health lifestyle for your whole family.