Mobile phones let us stay in touch with our families, conduct business, or simply keep us entertained. Despite their goodness, they don’t go well on the neck. Most people end up suffering from “text neck”. It is also known as Turtle Neck posture or anterior head syndrome. Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain damage sustained from looking down at your cell phones/hand phones, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long.
The neck gets its motion with the support of bone, muscles and ligaments. Inflammation or abnormalities in any of them could cause pain in your neck. Most times, muscles which run around your neck, usually the Levator scapulae, scalene or trapezius get overworked during prolonged driving, looking into your books, computers or handphones resulting in stiffness and neck pain.
Other common causes of stiff neck are poor posture, wrong sleeping positions (most times it is lying on the stomach). Untreated poked neck also results in osteoarthritis, when protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down due to uneven load distribution with awkward posture. The neck may also end in stiffness if there is an injury or inflammation to the structures supporting the neck.
Some of the lesser known possible causes for neck stiffness and pain can be whiplash injuries, meningitis, TMJ arthritis or disc bulge, bruxism and sometimes even breast cancer.
1. Neutral your neck
Hold your cell phone at eye level as much as possible. If your device is below eye level, look down with your eyes rather than your neck. Many handy devices are available in the market for holding the phones and tablets in place while you read.
2. Micro break
Take short breaks from your phones. Take frequent micro-breaks to move/stretch your neck and back. Limit your device usage to half hour sessions. Consider making a phone call rather than spending a long time texting.
3. Gentle stretches
Some forms of neck pain or muscle tightness are alleviated with gentle range-of-motion stretches for trapezius, levator scapulae and scalene.
4. Strengthening exercises for neck muscles
The imbalance in the muscles due to weakness can lead to pain and stiffness on one side of the shoulder. Strengthening exercises prove helpful in such cases.
5. Apply contrast bath
Applying heat and cold alternatively can reduce the inflammation and improve the pliability of the soft structure reducing stiffness and pain.
6. Make your bed
A sagging pillow or a hollow bed could be all the simple reason for your big worry. There are plenty of ergonomic cervical pillows available in the market to alleviate neck pain and soreness. Pick the ones that suit and soothe.
7. Carry carefully
On long trips, avoid carrying one sided handbags with heavy weights and instead opt for a backpack that evenly distributes weight.