It’s referred to as ‘text neck’ and with many expected to receive an electronic device for Christmas, ‘tis the season to remind users to take regular screen breaks.
Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at a mobile phone, tablet, or other wireless device too frequently and for too long.
‘Sympathetic dominance’ and ‘forward head carriage’ is, according to local allied health professionals, a universal problem among our texting, facebooking generation.
Warrnambool chiropractor Veronica Hughson said small changes needed to be implemented now to avoid longer-term health issues.
“We need to be more pro-active in getting kids to counteract the postural stresses involved in a texting position,” she said. “Otherwise we are in danger of a generation with permanent damage to the cervical spine and lifelong neck pain.”
Ms Hughson, who has worked in the industry for over 26 years, said cases of neck complaints had increased dramatically.
“In practice we are certainly seeing a greater number of young people with pain syndromes and general health repercussions due to chronic postural pressures.
“The concern with texting or screen time postures, is not just in relation to musculoskeletal health but also about how these stressed postures affect a range of health measures via postural affects on the central nervous system.”
Ms Hughson said exercises could counteract ‘text neck’.
“A simple idea is to use a foam posture roll and lie on it for 10 minutes a day and roll along the spine,” she said. “By having the shoulders back the head carriage can relax into a better postural state and counteract the forward head position.”
Warrnambool physiotherapist Toby Pettigrew agreed ‘text neck’ was a legitimate complaint.
“There are loads of studies that link chronic neck pain with poor posture,” he said. “Every centimetre the neck is off the body’s mid-line , the head increases in weight and you need more muscle strength to hold it.
“We’re seeing so much more than 15 years ago,” he said. “We need to be posture aware.”