Is your smartphone a pain in the neck – literally?
If you’re like most people, your smartphone is your constant companion wherever you go. You would likely be checking it every few minutes, whether it’s to check for notifications or your email, scrolling through your social media feeds, reading the news, playing games, or texting.
Usually, all this is done while your head is bent down, not just while you’re sitting down but even while walking, a definite safety hazard.
Apart from being a danger on the road, you may be suffering from a condition called Text Neck Syndrome.
The term, coined by US chiropractor Dr Dean L Fishman, refers to a kind of repetitive stress injury caused by the action of bending your head to look at electronic gadgets over an extended period of time.
This is because the more you bend over, the more weight and pressure you put on your spine. This will cause you to feel symptoms such as chronic headaches, upper back, shoulder, and neck pain.
This may also cause increased curvature of the spine, because it’s been said that for every inch that the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine actually doubles.
So before it is too late, act now to prevent Text Neck Syndrome.
Here are some tips that you can try to avoid this affliction.
1. Remember to stay in a neutral position
Whether you’re sitting or standing, constantly remind yourself to stay in a more neutral, less stressful position.
Try to avoid positions that would cause you to strain your neck, arms, and even fingers. If you need to check your smartphone, instead of bending your neck, bring your device up to eye level instead.
2. Do some stretching
Simple exercises such as stretching or light yoga can improve your posture and strengthen your back.
Apart from mitigating the effects of Text Neck Syndrome on your body, stretching moves such as neck stretches, chin tucks – where you tuck your chin toward your neck for a few minutes – or even holding a ‘Superman’ pose while on a yoga mat can work wonders.
3. Get a massage
A good massage is a great way to relieve the pain caused by text neck.
The kneading action and grip helps reach the deep muscles, unlocking the knots that may have formed. The different levels of pressure and intensity help to stretch your body and relax the muscles. Some massages even apply warmth to provide better relief.
Unfortunately, with our busy lifestyles, heading to a massage parlour or a spa to get a massage is not always possible. One option to consider would be to get a massage chair that mimics the above actions perfectly, such as OSIM’s uMagic Massage Chair.
This will allow you to hit two birds with one stone – relieving the pains caused by text neck as well as being a great way to relax when you get home.
Take the time to unplug and take a break from your devices. Instead of checking your email on your phone or tablet, devote a half hour before your bedtime to recharge and clear your head.
So before you head off to bed to sleep, sit back and get a relaxing massage in the comfort of your own home to let your tiredness from the day melt away.
4. Reduce your use of gadgets
If you really think about it, your gadget use was formed out of habit or even boredom. You’ve gotten used to looking at your device every few minutes to see the latest news on your social media feed, or to check your email.
To minimise this habit and be kinder to your neck and spine, make a conscious decision to simply set aside time when you can use your device. This could be by scheduling your usage at specific set periods of time, or by making a commitment to use it less.
Instead of using your gadget all the time, put it down and actually experience what is going on around you.
Pay full attention to whoever you’re with; have meaningful conversations with them without letting your phone distract you.
Do more activities in the real world instead of just the virtual. Play actual physical games, go for a walk without reading your email in the process. You may be surprised at how much time you can free up to do other things when you tear yourself away from your devices.
This will also have the beneficial side effect of being able to rest and strengthen your eyes.
You may not realise it now, but you may already be feeling the effects of Text Neck Syndrome. Trying out the tips above can go a long way in making sure it doesn’t get worse, or even in getting rid of it altogether.