That is my typical reaction when I hear that there is a new phone tech available to be honest. Do I not like smartphones? Oh heck yes I do. Do I loathe Apple? Nope, not at all. So, why do I generally not like hearing about the ‘New Tech’? Probably because my day is filled with the problems associated with our tech world (and no… I’m not in IT on the side).
“Text Neck”, or “Tech Neck” as I prefer it be called is becoming one of the main problems I see in the office. It is a component of our advancing automated world, I guess. It’s been written about before; even studied in the scholarly journals to a degree.
Is ‘Text Neck’ an appropriate term?
In many ways I would say no. Texting, or smartphone use, is certainly on the rise in every age demographic. The anterior head shift that is associated with “Text neck” is not the only way of acquiring this change in position though. Many folks look to blame the phone solely, and fail to look at the other aspects of life that may contribute as well. That’s why I prefer “tech neck” to explain the impact.
‘Tech Neck’ speaks largely on how we shift our posture in relation to all technology we use regularly.
This is most notable in the younger generation. Often I am seeing issue with my high school and University level students, and it has some to do with their phone… but more to do with other aspects. Looking at how anteriorly shifted some are, and then assessing their spare time activities. (don’t worry… I’m not gonna play the ‘old guy’ card and say things like “In my day we played outside in our spare time… blah, blah blah”) When I speak to the 12 to 24 age groups I am amazed at how many answer yes to watching movies on their tablet in bed. Where texting in poor position is certainly not a great habit, far more damaging is sitting or laying in bed for hours at a time watching a movie in poor posture (or binge watching your favourite show for 8+ hours!). Other areas that force the head forward are activities like Laptop use. I often recommend using a docking station whenever possible.
Since the above mentioned activities are not texting, most assumed they were not as damaging as using the phone. I would argue that when using a tablet or laptop you tend to use them for more extended periods of time that they are MORE damaging.
So what can be done?
Those that have visited my office in the past will know that I speak often about the importance of my secondary recommendations.
What I do is make specific recommendations tailored directly to the patients needs. This would include; but not be limited to, activities like stretches, exercises, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications. With those bits of ‘homework’ along with specific Chiropractic adjustments we look to set a better foundation from which the rest of the structure can rest.
Outside of the discomfort that many; but not all, complain of, there seems to be a strong correlation between this anterior head shift and poor sleep, reduced energy or lethargy, and difficulty concentrating. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my youngest patients! Use of devices by youngsters is here to stay. You can walk through your local mall or grocery store and see little ones glued to Mom or Dads device, watching or playing. In line with this I am seeing more and more adolescents with behavioural disorders (ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc). With these kids I am seeing a strong correlation with anterior head syndrome (AHS); and by correcting it an improvement in behaviour noted by Mom/Dad.
As the technology is ever changing it is hard to say what will come next, and therefore difficult to say how things will progress. Apps have been developed in response to this “epidemic” for poor posture while using a phone. We can say not to use them as often, but it will only last as long as the person is mindful. In the end we will continue to struggle against technology, and make adaptations where possible (*like standing desks, treadmill desks, active sitting chairs, and more) to lessen their impact.
Thanks for reading.
Dr. Matt Lindsay, DC