Massage and "Text Neck"
"Text neck" is a growing health issue that is affecting millions of people across the world. It is a condition that is caused by the overuse of technology, in particular, looking down at our phones and laptops for extended periods of time. The position we put ourselves in when staring at a small phone or looking down at a computer puts our necks into a constant state of forward flexion. Since our heads are the heaviest part of our bodies, tilting the head forward and down for these long times also pulls everything attached to the head forward and down, which can result in pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Additionally, the constant positions that we hold our devices in can also cause stiffness and pain in the wrists, hands, and especially the thumbs. The seemingly easiest 'solution' is to simply put down our phones more often and watch our posture while using our devices, but in reality our phones are not just an entertaining vice, they are a vital part of our everyday lives, so putting them down isn't as easy as it seems. Fortunately, massage can be an effective and natural way to treat and even prevent text neck.
Some of the ways massage can help with this condition include:
1. Improving Posture: Massage combined with stretching can help improve posture by loosening the muscles and ligaments in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. This can help reduce the strain on the neck and shoulders which means that adjusting to the correct posture (such as sitting up straight) is less stiff and painful, so the body is more likely to "spring back" to a comfortable position. The hunched position can also cause the pectorals and fronts of the shoulders to get very tight which can pull the posture out of position. Massage can loosen these muscles up to allow a straighter, more open posture.
2. Reducing Muscle Tension: Massage can help reduce muscle tension that can be caused by poor posture. By loosening the muscles, massage can help reduce pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
3. Increasing Mobility: Massage can help increase mobility by loosening tight muscles which will then allow the joints to move more easily and with less pain. This can help improve range of motion in the neck and shoulders and help prevent text neck from occurring.
4. Reducing Stress: Stress often manifests itself in the shoulders and neck, so combine everyday stress with the position that causes text neck, and you have a perfect storm of discomfort and pain. Massage can help reduce the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline in addition to loosening the muscles in the areas where stress and text neck occur.
Watching posture and how devices are used is the best defense against text neck, but self care is also important to keep the symptoms under control. Techniques such as stretching, neck traction, and yoga are all very helpful. Adding regular massage can be a gentle, relaxing, and valuable tool for keeping away and fighting the effects of text neck.