In this digital age, it seems that technology is used for almost everything. Kids are constantly using computers and iPads at school for learning, then playing games or using devices at home. What is often forgotten about throughout this is posture. If you watch a child using an iPad or similar device, you will probably see the poor posture that is associated with the use of a portable device. The head is forward and shoulders are rounded, causing muscles of the neck to work harder. This posture using modern devices has developed the name ‘text neck’.
What is text neck?
Up until recently, neck problems in children were rare. Today, however, researchers at Harvard Medical Health predict that seven out of 10 people will experience neck aches at some point in their lives.
When we hunch over our devices to text, the muscles and tendons at the front of the neck tighten, while those behind the neck lengthen. The human head weighs about 4kg, but for every 2.5cm your head is tilted forward, the weight your neck needs to carry doubles. Over time, this causes the natural curve of the neck to flatten.This poor posture may then lead to muscle tightness and headaches, and as a result, children may become unhappy, frustrated or not concentrate properly. As kids head into adulthood, experts believe that degeneration will have already set in as a result of slumped posture and poor alignment, potentially requiring medication and surgical intervention.
Signs of text neck
- Instant upper back or neck pain when using a handheld device.
- Nagging or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day.
- General shoulder pain and tightness.
- Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer.
Tips to avoid poor posture
- Sit at a desk when using an iPad, instead of the couch.
- Have the device raised to eye level, to avoid bringing the head forward.
- Limit iPad use to 30 minutes at a time.
- Keep your back straight and maintain a neutral head position, ears aligned with shoulders.
- Regularly stretch the chest: keep your arms on either side of an archway of a door and slightly lean into it, whilst looking towards the ceiling.
- Stand against a wall with the back of ankles, shoulders, head, and buttocks touching the wall.
- If your child has poor posture, consider having them checked by a chiropractor. Chiropractors are specifically trained in identifying postural problems. They can identify these tight muscles and rebalance them using appropriate techniques.
Risks of Text Neck
- Altered spinal curvature
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Early spinal degeneration
- Chronic headache
- Disc related injuries
- Possible surgery
By Scott Baker, Principal Chiropractor at Childrens Sunshine Chiropractic. Dr Scott Baker is only one of a few chiropractors on the Sunshine Coast who focuses entirely on babies and children. His vision is to identify and correct musculoskeletal problems in babies caused by the birth process and assist babies and children reach their optimal potential. To find out more, call (07) 5491 7743, or visit childrenssunshinechiropractic.com.au.