By far, the most common issue I see in my practice is what I call “computer neck”. Although not an official term it is an accurate description of the cause of the majority of my clients’ neck and shoulder pain. Throughout the day most people spend a lot of time hunched over a computer or smart phone. This can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal issues ranging from the less serious tension headache to more serious cervical spine issues. If this sounds like you, read on, there is help!The root of the issue is having incorrect posture whilst using a computer or smart phone.
Having a posture that is even slightly off can be damaging once you consider the cumulative effect of maintaining that incorrect position for hours over the course of a day. The Cleveland Clinic recently released an article detailing the “text neck” repetitive strain injury. Similar to “computer neck” it too occurs when the wrong posture is maintained during the activity.
The article’s main message: the neck muscles are built to support about 10 pounds of weight and every inch the head moves forward (for example, while texting) the weight supported by the neck doubles. When looking at these numbers it becomes clearer how this could be such a big problem. You could potentially be stressing your neck with 50 pounds of extra weight for several hours a week. Over time this causes shortening in neck muscles and rounded shoulders among other problems.
Massage therapy can help! Text neck or “computer neck” can cause persistent neck and shoulder pain. Massage therapy can provide relief from this pain and help in restoring length to affected muscles. My approach as your massage therapist would be to observe your normal posture, noting any abnormalities then palpate for muscle tension and trigger points. Releasing tension in the muscles that have been chronically strained from computer work is the first step in addressing the issue. But, this is the first half of the battle.
If there isn’t a conscious effort to change posture during computer and phone use the issue will always return. Click here for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advice on correct posture while using the computer and phone. Once you’ve received massage therapy to loosen your neck and shoulders and learned the correct posture you’re well on your way to saying goodbye to “computer neck.”
However, to complete the wellness picture I would recommend seeing a personal trainer who specialized in corrective exercise. Chances are if you are suffering from computer or text neck, muscle imbalances have developed in your torso. An expert who can identify those weaknesses and provide a corrective exercise program will head you down the path to never having to suffer again.
So if you’re texting or on the computer, check yourself! Make sure you’re maintaining a healthy posture and call your friendly massage therapist if you can’t get that tension to go away.
Blog post by Deirdre Amos of Amos Massage Therapy. For more information, please contact Amos Massage Therapy at amosmassagetherapy.com. Amos Massage Therapy is a member of the Pittsburgh Fitness Council, a professional member organization that strives to connect the best professionals in the area to provide and enhance client services. For more information about PFC and its members, please visit www.pghfitcouncil.com.