Text Neck – These 2 simple issues are probably causing your neck pain
Today’s blog is going to look at forward head posture or recently names text neck – and the effect it has on our neck and shoulder region.
Now – it’s quite ironic that you will likely be reading this on your phone, iPad or on a laptop with your head in a downward position!
It’s also highly likely you’ll have been doing some work today with your head looking down at your phone or computer.
There isn’t anything wrong with looking down, but you might find if you do it too much you will cause yourself some problems.
Coming through the doors of our clinic are lots of desk based workers – and a main complaint is neck and shoulders pain.
Recent changes to how we work has seen a large percentage of us working from home.
This has obviously had a big impact on our upper bodies as they simply weren’t used to the load that was being placed upon them.
Take a read on as we break down the finer points about forward head positions and how it can affect you – and also what you can do about it!
Position – is the placement your body is in over a short period of time and can be changed easily.
Posture – is the position that your body adopts over an extended period of time which becomes more permanent.
It goes without saying – the more you adopt certain positions - your body will adapt and this will likely become your posture over a longer period of time.
Good examples of this are:
- Poor Posture – slumped spines, rounded shoulders, imbalanced shoulders from side to side. Typically found in older people and desk workers.
- Good Posture – straight backs, shoulders back and level shoulders. Typically found with armed forces employees, athletes and people who have more active jobs.
Posture is not everything - there are some very functional examples of poor posture which do not result in pain.
This being said – one of the areas of the body you do not want poor posture in is the neck and head.
This is because of the anatomy of the neck and how it can cause you pain if it isnt working as well as it could be.
In your neck you have the following main structures:
- Vertebrae and facet joints – the bones of the neck and the joints that allow it to turn and extend.
- Cervical Discs – the spinal discs which allow for movement and sit between the bones
- Nerve Roots – the start of the nerves which lead off in to your upper limbs.
- Neck and Shoulder Muscles
Here’s a simple test you can all do to show the importance of avoiding excess forward head position.
Looking straight ahead – turn your head from side to side – you’ll notice its easy and you can turn your head fully.
Now – look down and repeat the movement - it’s now very difficult to turn your head from side to side.
This is because your neck and facet joints do not operate well when you look down.
If you consistently hold your head in downward positions it can tighten and stiffen joints up but also start top place pressure on the cervical nerve roots – which exit between the facet joints.
These are some of the symptoms you can develop
Top 3 Symptoms of Forward Head Position
- Neck and shoulders – muscular pain and tension
- Loss of neck range of movement – stiffness
- Nerve pain which can extend in to your arms
The head is heavy in nature and some have argued in the past that it may be too heavy for the neck in these positions.
To put this in perspective studies have shown that the neck is subjected to around 60 pounds of force when tilting the head forward and back but other pieces of research have shown that the neck can withstand up to 560 pounds worth of force before they suffer an injury!
So why do we get sore necks from forward head position?
There’s 2 really simple reasons why our necks get sore.
- Our necks aren’t strong enough to deal with the positions we place them in to
- We spend too long looking down (increased technology use compared to previous generations)
Deconditioning of the neck combined with overload of joints, soft tissues and nerves when leaving the head and neck in the same positions will always lead to symptoms developing.
So this leads us nicely in to our next section about what we can do about this!
Prevention is always better than a cure.
Top 4 Tips for Reducing Neck Pain
- Strength Training – if you’re an avid gym goer – you may strengthen your neck, but you also may not. It is a commonly neglected area. You can start with some simple isometric exercises using your hand and pushing your head in different directions to strengthen the neck and head muscles. Depending on the gym you go to – there may be a specific neck machine or neck fixing that you can progress your neck strength work. Working the shoulders to support the neck is also a great idea.
- Self-Treatment - keep a massage ball or tool by your desk at work and whenever you get a tightness or ache – massage the neck and shoulders to reduce tension and stop it from building.
- Regular Maintenance Treatment - if you have persistent problems and working at a desk is getting the better of you – get booked in for soft tissue work. This helps to regulate your pain and increase the movement in your neck and shoulders which can allow you to get improved function.
- Work in better positions – raise your screens to a better level – avoid looking down as much and take more screen time breaks!
We hope that this has helped you to understand why you may get a sore neck from desk based work and phone use.
Looking down isn’t bad – but the amount of time we do it for most likely is!
Your head isn’t too heavy but it’s likely that your neck might not be as strong as it could be!
Share this blog with someone who has persistent neck and shoulder pain – this could be the key to helping them.
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If you think you are struggling with neck pain – book online or give us a call.
If you think this blog can help someone you know – please share it.
Thanks from the MSK Sports Injury Clinic Team
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