Oh, how we love the convenience of our cellphones. We can text, answer emails, shop, organize our day and, yes, talk on them. Unfortunately, the downside is cellphone use is taking a toll on our bodies. It is showing up with pain in our neck, shoulders and upper back areas.
Our head weighs approximately 10 pounds and, in a normal upright position, our necks manage that weight just fine. When we start to position it in an abnormal way, like down and forward for long periods of time, it puts undue stress on our neck, shoulders and upper back.
According to one article (Spine One), they showed how the pounds of pressure increases with the farther forward we put our neck. With our head positioned very slightly forward, the pressure is about 10 pounds. With our head bent about halfway to the chest, the pressure is 15- 25 pounds. With our head bent almost all the way forward, the pressure is 35-50 pounds. Wow!
Another article (AMTA Massage Therapy Journal) stated that from ergonomic studies conducted, they suggested that “texting is, in fact, the worst smartphone activity when it comes to posture, coming in just before gaming and emailing. …the absolute worst mobile activity for the neck is texting while standing up. We seem to be better at maintaining proper head posture while sitting and texting.”
You may not feel it, but it’s putting a tremendous amount of pressure on your neck and the surrounding region, causing those muscles you are using to stiffen and eventually get sore and stay stiff and sore. This condition has a subtle, gradual buildup before you notice it. It may take years.
The symptoms, according to Spine One, can be: • Upper back pain where it is a chronic nagging pain to severe upper back muscle spasms. • Shoulder pain and tightness with possible shoulder spasms. • Numbness, tingling that radiates down your arm, caused by the pinching of cervical, (neck), nerve. • Chronic neck problems due to text neck and the early onset of arthritis in the neck.
The Spine One article goes on to offer three things you can do to help to ease the neck muscles: • Stretch it. Take a couple of minutes out of your day to stretch your neck and reset your brain. Tilt your head from left to right a few times. Look over your shoulder and then slowly turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Roll your shoulders and neck. • Hold your phone higher. • Set your phone down.
If these don’t work or only help marginally, I suggest—yep, you guessed it—go get a massage. A massage will help your tight and sore neck and your shoulder muscles to elongate and relax as well as the tendons and fascia in the area to loosen and relax. This will give you your mobility back in your neck, shoulder joint and upper back and, possibly, help with getting a more restful night’s sleep. And don’t we all want a good night’s sleep?
Sources: Spineone.com/surprising-truth-text-neck/ AMTA Massage Therapy Journal Summer 2020. Shoulder and Neck Pain.
Susan Santi is a certified massage therapist and owner of Ahhh Massage in Virginia, MN. Feel free to contact her with