With so many young people using cell phones, texting has exploded with expanded data features, and addictive interaction on social media. With prolonged use of cellphones, tablets and laptops, many chiropractors and massage therapists are treating ‘Text Neck’, or leaning into the screen.
Before this happens to you, these are tips that you can do to help deal with it –
- Dial the font size up on your screen. Whether you use your tablet, laptop or cellphone most often, sometimes the font size will cause you to squint or lean in to the screen. This isn’t what Sheryl Sandberg meant by the term. On your computer, Hold down CTRL + the dial on your mouse, and dial to your preferred size of font. On the tablet/smartphone (Apple), go to General > Accessibility > Larger Text > Drag Slider Right. Check your Android phone or tablet in the settings area, for similar prompts.
- Take time to look away and focus. Leaning into the screen also affects your eyesight, akin to moving to movie projector closer to the screen. It also puts a ton of pressure on your neck, as it’s holding up your head in a position that it was not really designed for it to be. For every inch you lean into the screen it adds 10 pounds of weight to your head and neck. Take a few minutes to look away from your screen, and focus on a faraway object.
- Look up. When you lean in to your screen for a prolonged time, it is about the
same as repeating the same action over and over. This contributes to headaches and stiff necks. Allow your head to loll back, and lower your shoulders. Don’t worry; your head won’t fall off, even though it just may feel like it. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Definitely do this several times a day – It gives your neck and eyes a break.
- Use the dictation feature. One of the great things you probably never use on your phone is the dictation feature. As often as I am live tweeting (#Gladiator4Life), I have learned that dictation helps to keep up with the program, and keeps you from looking down SO often. I use the mic, and clip it in my ear. Just make sure that you proofread what it is writing, on your behalf. (Dang autocorrect!) Once the software gets used to your style, it tends to make corrections on its own.
- PUT THE PHONE DOWN – I get it – when I was in junior high (mumblemumble) years ago, I had classes with my best friend on EARTH all day for a year. I LOVED it; School was a daily hangout all day long. Then, we’d get home, and then get on the phone for hours. We even watched Jeopardy over the phone. This was back in the day when even the house line had a minutes plan. I truly understand what it means to just want to share every single thought with your friends all the time. But at some point, you just have to put the phone down. It’s hard to disengage at first, but actually talking in person does have its’ perks.
- Get a massage – Of course getting the muscles to relax increases flexibility, range of motion
in your neck and relieves headaches. Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause pinched nerves, arthritis, and over time, disc degeneration. You are far too young to have to deal with that. Get a massage, or maybe an adjustment, if the problem cannot be solved with just the massage. These treatments are a great compliment to each other.
Note – This blog post is dedicated to Michele McDonald, who gave me the inspiration to write this post. If you have any questions about massage, please feel free to ask away!