Unpacking Text Neck With Dr. Finnegan
Top Oakland Chiropractor Dr. Finnegan was interviewed recently by Ivan Cash of The Slow Scroll. Here is the text from that interview. To view the full article and subscribe to The Slow Scroll click here.
from The Slow Roll; Issue 11: The Extreme Lengths of Digital Detoxing by Ivan Cash
WHEN DID YOU FIRST NOTICE THE 'TEXT NECK' TREND - AND WHAT IS IT, EXACTLY?
I first noticed "text neck" about 8 or 9 years ago. I remember a teenager coming into my office with posture that I usually only saw in elderly people.
She really had no strength in her neck, and her upper back, shoulders, and chest were extremely tight. The muscles at the base of her skull were spasmed. She was experiencing constant headaches and neck pain. We traced the source back to the fact that she was looking down at her phone for hours every day.
Text neck or forward head posture is a forward misalignment (subluxation) of the cervical vertebrae. When the neck is forward, the center of gravity is shifted forward, putting extra stress on the neck, shoulders, and mid back, leading to early wear and tear on the cervical vertebrae and spinal discs. This problem is mainly due to poor computer and mobile ergonomics as sadly, Americans devote, on average, 10 hours a day to screen time.
ARE THERE CERTAIN AGE GROUPS OR TYPES MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO TEXT NECK IN OAKLAND CA?
Teenagers are more susceptible to permanent changes in their spines. Their bones are still soft and therefore, the changes in their spines will last the rest of their lives. Older adults are more subject to immediate pain from text neck. Usually it's coupled with an old trauma or another repetitive stress that together, lead to pain. Women are more susceptible simply because they have less musculature around their necks than men and therefore less of a bracing system.
"To counter text neck, obviously limit screen time. We all need to do that. But also, in a nutshell, move around when you're at the computer: sit, stand, take breaks. Make sure the middle of your screen is at eye level. Sit on a fit ball."
HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY TEXT NECK, AND WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO COUNTER IT?
One way for a person to identify text neck is pain at the base of the skull that radiates into one or both trapezius muscles (upper back and shoulder areas). They may also notice that their head is forward and that they're developing a bump at the top of their upper back. This is due to more rounding in the upper back as the head pulls it forward.
To counter text neck, obviously limit screen time. We all need to do that. But also, in a nutshell, move around when you're at the computer: sit, stand, take breaks. Make sure the middle of your screen is at eye level. Sit on a fit ball.
Lift your phone up so you can look at it with a neutral neck. Keep your shoulders down and tuck your elbows into your sides so that your shoulders can be relaxed.
WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU OFFER OUR AUDIENCE ON HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIP WITH TECH?
As I said before, we should all limit tech time. I just started using the "screen time" limitations on my iPhone. I have mine set to 20 minutes a day for all social networking sites. It also allows me to set up times that I don't want to be on my phone at all, like after 10pm.
I think we all need to realize that tech is highly addictive and is probably making us more unhappy. We need to make an effort to get outside more and have real conversations and interactions in which we put our phones away. And obviously, we need to exercise more. If you're going to be on the computer or the phone all day, realize you need strong muscles to do so, or you'll end up hurting yourself.
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