‘Alexander App’ for Text Neck

‘Text Neck’ is a world-wide health concern affecting thousands of people who frequently use handheld mobile technology such as cell phones, computer, video games, tablets or e-readers. Excessive texting and overuse of handheld devices often result in severe neck pain. Frequent forward head flexion while looking down at screens of mobile devices may cause cervical spinal degeneration, postural changes, headaches, numbness and tingling in arms and hands. Poor posture also negatively affects other bodily functions, for example, it may cause loss of  lung capacity or gastrointestinal problems.

 

Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractor in Plantation, Florida, coined the term ‘text neck’ in 2008 when he explained to a patient’s mother why the girl was in pain. He noticed the teenaged daughter in the corner texting friends, bending her neck forward as she typed. He told the mom, “See that’s what I am talking about – text neck”, a posture that puts you out of alignment. Since then this term refers to an overuse syndrome of head, neck and shoulders resulting from excessive strain on the spine while looking down at any handheld mobile device.

 

The relationship between bad posture and mobile devices has increased significantly with the advance of modern technology over the last few years. Everywhere we see people with ‘text necks’ using mobile phones in restaurants, at red lights in their cars, walking through the mall or waiting in line at the grocery store. It seems many people want to “stay connected” all day long. Well, this behavior takes its toll, and we might want to reconsider if it is worth it to be “reachable” 24/7.

 

Health experts suggest taking frequent breaks from using technology and moving as much as possible. Neck and shoulder exercises help to increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension. Getting into the habit of phoning people instead of texting may also solve the problem easily.

 

Some health practitioners advocate the use of the “text neck indicator”. This mobile app gives you a green indicator light when presumably the phone is held at an acceptable angle and a red light when you hold the phone too low. Supposedly this takes care of the problem. But does it?

 

It is ironic to think that using another app on the phone could correct the habitual posture associated with the phone. Finding a better position for the handheld device might be a start. However, it doesn’t deal with the unconscious movement behaviour, that of putting the head forward and down in a damaging way.

 

We become so immersed in our activities such as texting or writing on the laptop, we can readily forget about the body until it hurts. It is easy to get sucked into the world on the screen in front of us. The most important factor in improving body posture is self awareness. We cannot develop awareness when we are constantly exposed to a stream of information, interaction and communication. Being able to give ourselves breaks, being quiet and connecting to our own selves is necessary for change.

 

So here is what I suggest: Use the ‘Alexander Technique app’. Apply the principles of the Alexander Technique to texting, using any technology, sitting at the computer, making a phone call – or to living your life! With the Alexander Technique you begin to cultivate a broader awareness. You learn how to monitor and organize your whole body while you are texting. This allows your head to balance freely on the top of the spine, the way it is meant to. No worries about a ‘text neck’ anymore!

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