How to Prevent Pain from Text Hand and Neck
Do you sometimes or often have a sore neck, headache and thumb by the end of the day? This is becoming a greater problem as our cell phones have become a huge part of our daily lives. Let’s take a few minutes to address your sore neck and potential headache, then we’ll talk about stretches for your hands to keep them supple and pain free.
Text Neck Strategies
Positioning of our head affects the tension put on the neck due to the weight of the head. Let’s face it, heads are heavy! The weight of the average head is between 10 and 12 pounds. Imagine how much pressure that puts on the neck and the soft tissues that are responsible for stabilizing it. When a heavy head is flexed forward 30 degrees to look at a phone or tablet, it can feel like 40 pounds to the neck musculature.
Here are some easy solutions for helping with text neck. These strategies should help you avoid neck pain from using your mobile devices.
1. Bring the phone closer to you. Instead of looking down, bring the phone to eye level by bending elbows.
2. When seated or in bed, try propping pillows under your arms to elevate, again bringing the screen closer to you and keeping the cervical spine in a more neutral position.
3. Change positions frequently. Not staying in one position for too long will help with cervical/neck range of motion (ROM) and tightness you experience by the end of the day. Get up and move every 30 minutes.
4. ROM and neck stretches will help maintain flexibility in the cervical spine through rotation, sidebending, flexion and extension. Add a hold to these and you have created a stretch. It all comes back to posture: sit up tall, with shoulder blades drawn back and down and tuck the chin. You've heard this hundreds of times throughout your life and with our constant use of cell phones and tablets, it is even more important. Now is the time to relearn good posture.
Photo 1: Neck Stretch: Tip your head sideways until you feel tension. You may need to turn your head so your nose is pointing down. Gently reach up and give a gentle pull. Hold for 15 seconds.
Photo 2: Neck Stretch: With hands behind your back, hold your right wrist with your left hand. Gently tilt your head toward your left shoulder. Stop when you feel the stretch. Don’t raise your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Sore Text Hand Strategies
Now let’s move onto the thumb that is becoming so bothersome you feel like you can’t use it at the end of the day. Cell phones have awesome built-in features like voice texting that can ease your text hand pain. We also have a pointer finger that does a great job of texting. So, give that thumb a break and take advantage of other ways to send those oh so important messages.
Now let's talk about the size of the phone. Smart phones are becoming larger and harder to grip, so a cheap option is a pop socket or other phone grip accessory. These attach to the phone, allowing you to hold it more easily. They take the stress off of the hand.
Most importantly, we need to stretch! Just because it is our hand or wrist doesn’t mean we can ignore it when it comes to stretching. The following stretches for your arms, hands, and wrists are easy to do when you have a moment in your day, and they feel great.
Carpal Tunnel Stretch: With the palm facing up, reach under and grab the pad of your thumb and pull down and back. Back off the stretch if it is painful. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Wrist Stretch: Bend your left wrist down to point your fingers to the ground. Gently push your hand downward just above the knuckles, feeling the stretch. Hold the stretch 10-15 seconds.
Wrist Stretch: Bend your right wrist and fingers down, pulling the fingers back. Slowly bend your elbow into your side, and then slowly extend it back out. Complete 5 repetitions. Repeat on the other side.
Managing Text Neck Pain and Text Hand Pain
When you stretch the muscles in the neck and hand, you can avoid the pain associated with texting and using mobile devices. Try the strategies of elevation and positioning your phone and get up to move around and do a few neck and hand stretches. Be sure to share these tips with your family and friends!
~ Stefanie Myers, PTA ~