Technology dramatically changes the way we live. It can have a dramatic impact on how we spend our time, and, as a result, leads to changes in our health.
Because of the computer, modern work in most jobs involves sitting down for eight hours, which we now know contributes to many health problems. Now it seems that the little computers we carry around with us everywhere, our smartphones, are causing a problem that is being called “text neck.”
Heavy Lies the Head that Writes the Text
The problem with texting is that, like sitting at a desk, it puts our body in a position it’s not designed to maintain. The head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, and it is normally balanced evenly at the top of the neck. But when you bend your head forward to look at a smartphone, the position of the head changes, making it harder for your muscles to support the head.
When you bend your head down by just 15 degrees, your muscles have to support more than twice as much weight, the equivalent of 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, the neck muscles are supporting the equivalent of 40 pounds. At 30 degrees, 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees, 60 pounds.
With these dramatically increased weights, it’s no wonder that our necks can experience strain, especially considering how much time we spend looking at our smartphones. Experts estimate that most of us spend between 700-1400 hours a year looking at our phones. And heavy users are significantly higher: up to 6400 hours.
How to Ease Text Neck
The best way to ease text neck is to reduce the amount of time you spend looking down and reduce the angle at which you bend your neck.
When using your phone, try to do most of your looking down with your eyes rather than tilting your head. You can also decrease the angle at which you hold your head by moving the phone further in front of you.
Try using your phone in different postures. Sit in a chair with your head supported and hold the phone straight in front of you. Set up a stand at work or in your home where you can view your phone at a more comfortable angle. Lie down in bed with the phone over you.
And it’s always a good idea to stretch your neck muscles regularly. Move it in different ways, such as as side to side, backwards, or in a circular motion.
How TMJ Can Contribute to Text Neck
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can make text neck worse. When your jaw is not in an optimal position, it can make it harder for your jaw muscles and your neck muscles to function efficiently. This makes it even harder for your neck muscles to meet the demands of supporting more weight when your head is bent. As a result, people with TMJ may be more likely to develop text neck, and treating TMJ may help reduce or eliminate pain associated with text neck.
If you are suffering neck pain, jaw pain, headaches, or other symptoms associated with TMJ and text neck, we can help. Please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a San Diego TMJ dentist at Strober Dental today.