If you’ve been dealing with neck pain lately, you might blame it on you sleep position, a pulled muscle or exercise. But depending on how often you text, you could be suffering from a type of neck strain associated with frequent texting.
This is known as “text neck,” an overuse syndrome due to poor posture and constantly tilting your head downward when using your cell phone or other electronic device.
Similar to other types of muscles strains, this problem may not improve until you correct the underlying issue. Realistically, you might be unable to stop texting, but there are plenty of ways to relieve discomfort and prevent longer-term pain.
1. Raise your phone to eye level.
Changing the position of your neck and phone is an excellent way to prevent and relieve text neck pain.
Normally when you text, you naturally tilt your head and chin down toward your chest and keep your phone closer to your lap. Going forward, bring your phone up to eye level and make a conscious effort not to tilt your head down. As a rule of thumb, if your eyes look downward, then you’re not raising the phone high enough.
Once your phone is in this position, continue with your activity. This might be a bit awkward initially. The more you do it, however, the easier it’ll become. This position can gradually relieve pressure on the neck and stop pain.
As you bring your phone to eye level, make sure you maintain good posture. Keep your shoulders pulled back and your spine straight.
2. Take phone breaks.
Occasionally tilting your head down to read or type a text message isn’t likely to cause neck strain. If you do experience neck strain and believe it’s caused by texting, it might be a good idea to give your phone a break. Rather than have a conversation via text message, give the person a call and have a voice conversation.
Keep in mind that other signs of too much texting can include hand pain or thumb stiffness. Rather than shake the pain off as no big deal, give your hands a break.
3. Text lying on your back.
If you’re dealing with neck strain and you must type a message, lie on your back and type the message from this position. While you’re lying on your back, hold the phone in front of your face and begin typing. This position helps relieve pressure on your neck. Just make sure you hold on tight – typing while lying down is the number one cause of phone-falling-on-face accidents!
4. Apply hot or cold therapy.
It can take a few days of resting your neck for pain to subside. In the meantime, you can alternate between hot or cold therapy. Cold therapy is effective for acute pain, whereas heat therapy helps relieve inflammation in the muscles and joints. You can apply either a cold or heat compress for 10 to 15 minutes multiple times throughout the day. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, to help reduce inflammation.
5. Practice neck exercises.
Gentle exercises can also ease neck pain by improving blood circulation in this area. Bring your chin down toward your chest and then slowly raise it up and down. Do this a few times. Then, slowly rotate your head from left to right. Do this several times a day – both exercises can loosen neck muscles and relieve tension.
Text neck can improve with good posture, neck exercises and better texting habits. Be patient and avoid looking down as much as possible when texting. If your neck pain doesn’t go away, see a doctor to rule out other possible causes.