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4 Tips to Avoid Neck Pain Caused by Your Smartphone

There is no doubt that Canadians are more connected now than ever. According to comScore, the average Canadian spends about 2.5 hours a day or 72 hours a month looking at their smartphones or tablets. The trouble is, looking down to view your smartphone can be a pain in the neck; literally and figuratively.

You've seen people like this: neck straining at an uncomfortable angle, shoulders hunched, squinting at the screen as they text1. It's a posture most often associated with our smartphones, and it can lead to neck pain1.

 

Why?

Because bending your head to text or browse puts lots of extra stress on your cervical spine. In fact, bending your head to look down at your smartphone can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine. Even a 15-degree head tilt adds close to 27 pounds of pressure2. This posture is not natural and the accumulation of the extra force can lead to irregular stresses on the spine and surrounding, supportive soft tissues.

Here are 4 Tips to Help you Avoid Neck Pain Caused by Smartphones

  1. Look Forward
    Bring the device up to eye level. This will minimize the bend in your neck and maintain optimal spine posture. If your device is below eye level, look down with your eyes rather than your neck.
  2. Posture Check
    Make an effort to maintain the curve in your low back when sitting and using your device. If you need to use your device for a long period of time, try to find a supportive chair and a surface to rest your arms on. Avoid using your device to one side of the body with your neck rotated or cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder.
  3. Break Time
    Take frequent micro-breaks to move/stretch your neck and back. Limit your device use to 20-minute sessions. Consider making a phone call rather than spending a long time texting.
  4. Stretching
    Try one or all of these stretches when taking micro-breaks:
Chin

Chin Tuck: Draw your chin backwards. Hold for a couple seconds. Repeat.

chair

Sitting Lumbar Roll: In a straight chair use a lumbar roll to support the curve of the low back. Align your ears with your shoulders.

back

Scapular Retraction: Rest your shoulders away from your ears. Slowly pull your shoulder blades inwards. Hold for a couple seconds. Release and repeat.

We’re here to help!

Need a few more stretches just for you? Want to know what is causing your neck pain?

For more information, contact your local CBI Health Centre.

References

  1. Spine Universe, High Tech Can be a Pain in the Neck
  2. Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head, Journal Surgical Technology International, 2014