“Text neck” is a modern age term to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck resulting from excessive watching or texting on mobile phones over a sustained period of time. The location of pain and discomfort is often in the back of the shoulder and neck. There are many muscles that had hold tension so the particular region that is the source of pain varies from person to person.
Some factors that contribute to text neck include overuse of the shallow neck flexor muscles and weakness of the deep neck, upper back, and shoulder stabilizer muscles. Your body may compensate for weakness in these regions with tension, knots, and trigger points that develop in the neck, shoulder, and upper “trap” muscles.
The best way to know what is contributing to your neck pain is to have a movement assessment performed.
Once you know what your limitations are, the first common-sense recommendation is to be mindful of how much time you are spending in front of your phone in a slumped or awkward posture. Taking breaks and keeping a good posture when reading are good habits to develop. Making these types of changes can help your pain subside. If your pain persists receiving hands-on therapy can help you experience pain relief more quickly. Pain improvements can be made with soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the neck, upper trap, and upper back muscles.
Once your pain is under control, you can now address the underlying imbalances that may have developed. Addressing these imbalances will enable you to restore your neck health and achieve lasting relief.
If you have weakness, learning how to activate muscles exercises that are not firing well is key. Muscles that tend to be weak include the deep neck flexors, lower trapezius, infraspinatus, lats, and serratus anterior. If you can get these muscles to fire, you will have less resting tension at the neck and shoulder region. Exercises that we use to target these areas include deep neck flexor holds, sidelying shoulder rotation, and the supine pullover.
Once your muscles engage better, your next step should be restoring movement. The basic function of your neck is to look up, down, and turn side-to-side. Targeted exercises to restore neck movement without tensing at the trapezius muscle is key. Exercises like supine cervical neck flexion, neck rotation, and prone cervical extension can be effective to restore normal neck movement.
To keep the pain from text neck from becoming a recurring problem, you need to develop strength through patterns of movement. You should be able to perform pull and push movements at different angles while generating tension in the right muscles. Exercises like the kettlebell Armbar and Turkish Get-up can be especially effective in this phase. If performed with good technique while keeping proper tension, exercises like these will enable you to have a healthy neck for a long time.
Most of the aforementioned exercises can be found in our video library.
When addressed with a specialized physical therapy program, overcoming text neck is possible. However, ignoring pain and engaging in repetitive activity can result in a further decline of your neck health. If you’re worried about neck pain, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to help you.
We invite you to request a neck consultation with one of our specialists. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your neck pain, and foster confidence that we can help you. If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.
If you’re in pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.