Text Neck – What Can I do to prevent it?
Here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne we see a lot of patients with posture where their head is very far forward. In fact, I have had a number of parents asking me about their kids posture as it seems their neck is very far forward on their shoulder as you can see in the picture below.
As I’m walking around Eastbourne I see that the posture defect of “text neck” or anterior head syndrome is becoming more and more common especially amongst younger people who have become glued to their phone or tablet. If this posture is maintained for long periods of time and continued over a course of years, the joints and muscles in our necks start to adapt to the forward pressure and the forward bending head starts to become the norm.
The picture shows that an average head weighs around 5kg. With a “text neck” the forward positioning amplifies the load up to an extra 440% of its original weight onto our joints and muscles.
During our chiropractic assessments we see alot of patients with constant pressure on some of the joints in the neck that have become restricted. In particular the muscles are prone to either getting weaker (as they are being underused) or extremely tight (as they are being over used).
The main symptoms include
- Neck stiffness or soreness
- Pain which can we a dull ache or sharp, located around the neck or shoulder areas
- Pain that radiates down into the shoulder and arm.
- Some of the muscles tightness and joints restrictions can lead to headaches.
Research shows that this forward neck position has a higher activation of muscles in the front of our necks. If these muscles are over stretched or become tight they can result in pain and referral headaches.
If these issues aren’t addressed, they can lead to long term injuries such as early onset arthritis, muscle weakness or disc compression.
What can you do to help?
Ask your chiropractor for a neck stretching sheet which provides all of the necessary stretches.
The most common stretches are the side neck stretch.
The Chin tuck.
This exercise helps to stretch the muscles on the back of your neck the suboccipitals and strengthen the muscles on the front of your neck. The deep neck flexors. The deep neck flexors are a really important set of muscles. People that have a weakness in these muscles are more suseptable to neck pain and headaches.
A test of the muscles can show if you have weakness or deconditioning in this area. The test is called Jull’s test. This test is also used in whiplash injuries to assess if the correct ratio of neck flexor and neck extensor strength is maintained after the injury.
To test the muscles lie flat with your back on the floor or a flat surface. You are to tuck the chin in and lift up your head off the ground slightly and hold that position. A conditioned neck should be able to hold from 29-38 seconds. If you are shaking after a few then this is a clear indicator that the muscles are weakened.
Deep Neck Flexors and a Link to Breathing patterns.
Weakness in these deep muscles in the front of our neck has also been linked to incorrect breathing patterns. Using our chests to breath rather than our diaphragm can result is weakness and dysfunction. Please checkout our previous blog on breathing patterns to find out if you are using your diaphragm correctly.
Thanks for reading
Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne is based in Eastbourne Town Centre, very close to the railway station and the bus stops. We are an award-winning clinic providing care to over 8,000 local people.
Borisut, S., Vongsirinavarat, M., Vachalathiti, R. and Sakulsriprasert, P., 2013. Effects of Strength and Endurance Training of Superficial and Deep Neck Muscles on Muscle Activities and Pain Levels of Females with Chronic Neck Pain. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 25 (9), 1157-1162.
Physiopedia., 2019. Deep Neck Flexor Stabilisation Protocol [online]. Physiopedia. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Deep_Neck_Flexor_Stabilisation_Protocol
By James Revell
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