The Text Neck: A Cause for Cervical Pain and Irritability Among Youngsters
A significant increase has been observed in screen time post pandemic on laptops and smartphones. From school going children and teenagers to young and middle-aged adults, people are spending long hours on screens for classes, meetings and work schedules.
The spine is composed of five segments: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar, sacrum, and coccyx each affecting each other. The pain in the lower back is not necessarily due to the muscles in surrounding areas but it can also result from poor posture of the head and neck.
It is very important to understand the repercussions of forward head position. When the head is tilted forward, to compensate the upper body shifts backward. To further compensate for the posture, the hips tilted forward. With increase in the angle of head flexion, the weight of the head to be supported by neck and upper back muscles also increases. This entire unconscious process misaligns the position of the spine.
The constant head and neck flexion due from using smartphones or laptops puts stress on the vertebral column and surrounding muscles and can lead to onset of cervical spinal degeneration defined as tech neck syndrome. Thus, the hunching position can lead to shoulder and lower back pain, headaches, neck spasms, and tingling sensations in hands.
This problem is not limited to adults but is spreading more among kids and adolescents.
Psychological Impact of Tech Neck Syndrome
Research has found that the electromagnetic radiation generated from the devices can cause dizziness, eye pain, low immunity, as well as symptoms of ADHD and autism. High grades of isolation and easy irritability were also among the common complaints reported by parents.
Naturally, any ache or pain in the body will decrease concentration and hamper productivity which can further lead to stress, worry, anger, and irritability. Therefore, the psychological effects of such bodily problems are clearly obvious.
The good part is this issue can be prevented by taking up a few cautions on regular basis including:
1. Practice neck extensions: Every now and then, pause for a few minutes and tilt the head upwards while gazing at the ceiling. Repeat this movement 10 or 15 times.
2. Opening up the chest (pectoralis muscle group): Get up during a 5-minute break, stretch your hands at the back and interlock your fingers (if hands are not reaching each other, take assistance of a handkerchief or a strap or band)
3. Yoga asanas: Chakrasana, dhanurasana, and shalabhasana (cobra) can do wonders in stretching core, lower back, shoulder, and chest muscles.
4. Keeping the laptop at eye level: To prevent head flexion, it is important to keep the technology devices at eye level. Laptops and computers should be preferred over smartphones.
5. Position of the spine: Gradually inculcate the habit of keeping the spine erect while studying or working. This might be uncomfortable and difficult in the beginning. To begin with, set a time for 10 minutes and try to sit straight without hunching the spine. Once this gets comfortable, gradually work on increasing the time.
6. Avoid prolonged sitting position: Take a short break (as brief as 5 mins) after every hour and move your body. Roll your shoulders, rotate your neck, stretch your calf and hamstring muscles, and do a lateral stretch.
Note: All exercises and asanas should be first learned under supervision and doctor’s consent should be taken in case of any physiological condition.
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