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Headaches, Phones and Your Health
I'm Doctor Rosemarie Jabbour (Chiropractor) from New World Chiro.
Have you ever wondered if looking at your mobile phone gives you a headache? Our current generation has become accustomed to a digital life, whereby it would feel strange to live without the abundance of technology. Yes, technology is fantastic and has evolved our society massively, but should there be a limit when it comes to mobile phone and social media usage?
You see, when it comes to mobile phones, most people are glued to them, but at what cost? Being hand held devices, the common behaviour is to look down at the phone. What impact might this behaviour have on your posture and your health more broadly?
Does looking at your phone give you a headache? Find out more in the article.
Mobile Phone Use Statistics
First, I want to set the scene and describe just how widespread mobile phone and social media use is. We scroll through social media, texting friends or casually browsing the internet. Most of us have a mobile phone and often we have older models laying around the house. Here are some statistics on mobile phone and social media usage:
- In 2018 there are approximately 4.57 billion mobile phone users
- A recent study suggested that the average adult spends over 4 hours a day on their phone, which equates to over 100 hours each month.
- Shortly after waking up in the morning, 35% of people will check their phone.
- Facebook has approximately 1.74 billion users
Those figures are staggering but aren’t a surprise. We know that we consume all sorts of media via our phones now. They have become an essential part of life. Could the use of our phones be changing our posture for the better or for the worse?
Mobile Phone Use, Social Media and Your Posture
Most of the time on your phone is spent looking down, because the natural, comfortable position to hold your phone is down by your stomach. With that being said, hundreds-of-thousands of people complain of pain in the neck area which radiates into their head every year.
Looking down at a screen for prolonger periods of time is not natural and places excess pressure on your spinal cord, neck muscles and other surrounding areas.
Consider this: We are at our strongest when our posture is in an upright, natural and neutral position.
Common situations where we use our phones in unnatural postures includes:
- Slouching on the couch
- Commuting to work in a train or bus
- Walking around while looking down at the phone
- Working behind a desk looking down at your computer screen and/or mobile devices
All of these situations involve you looking down at your phone and result in your posture being distorted.
Neck Problems and 'text neck'
A modern day health problem has emerged from the use of mobile devices. We call this problem ‘text neck’. It describes the neck pain someone is suffering from as being caused by looking down at a mobile phone for extended periods of time. This behaviour can result in structural changes to your body!
If you use the statistic we provided earlier; just imagine staring down for over 4 hours every single day! The overwhelming pressure on your head, neck and spine is extremely damaging both short and long-term.
Think about that for a moment: technology is changing our behaviour and a change in our behaviour is changing our physical structure.
Yes – text neck may cause your headache pain. It may also contribute to migraines, neck pain and shoulder pain.
But, people continue to do it anyway. Why? Because mobile phones – and technology in general – have become an addiction.
In fact, social media platforms design their algorithms to keep users on their platforms for longer, and for more sessions during the day. This ‘programmed’ addiction is damaging our posture and our health – yet we continue to do it. Social media use has become an addiction much like gambling – except the financial consequences of gambling are replaced with health consequences due to poor posture.
People feel like they’re missing out on something if they aren’t glued to their mobile phone. Like we’ve already touched on, though, technology is a wonderful thing.
How does bad posture cause headaches?
In general, the following bad posture signs to watch out for include:
- Rounded shoulders
- Dropped shoulder
- Uneven or lopsided shoulders
- Forward head posture (where your ears extend out front from the middle of your shoulders)
- Tight neck muscles and neck tensions
- A ‘clicky’ neck and neck pain
- Tight back muscles
All of these things may contribute to headaches. They may also be caused by looking down for prolonged periods during the day, such as looking down at your mobile phone or computer screen.
You see if your shoulders drop, this may lead to shortening of some muscles and irritation of spinal nerves and discs. The shortening of your muscles may lead to tension headaches, among other things. The longer you sit like this, the worse your posture will get and the worse your headaches may become.
How to prevent text neck and headaches
So, although using your phone for a prolonged period of time can cause headaches and neck pain, it doesn’t mean you have to cease using it altogether. No, all you need to do is remove some of the bad habits and form new ones that nullify the problem. By making a few small changes, you can improve your wellbeing, enhance your spinal health and avoid ‘text neck’.
They all relate to your posture. The only reason someone develops ‘text neck’ is because they’re putting their spine in an awkward position and solidifying their bad posture.
Here are some tips to alleviate your head and neck pain…
- Hold your phone differently: The best way to eliminate ‘text neck’ is to completely alter the way you hold your phone. If you bring the phone to your eye level, rather than bending your head forward, you won’t put any strain on your spine or neck muscles.
- Don’t use your phone excessively: It’s fine to use your mobile phone but know the boundaries. Spending hours constantly on your phone is not healthy, so check your phone intermittently instead. Taking regular breaks is very beneficial.
- Log off social channels: Try to log off or delete some of your social channels. Do you really need to be active on all the social channels all the time?
- Rely less on the digital world: The last tip is to completely avoid using your phone for certain periods. Hang out with your friends, go to dinner with your family or take your spouse to a theme park; but, remember to adopt a ‘no phone’ policy.
How Chiropractic Helps
Better health comes with better posture habits. Chiropractic helps to prevent headaches and other musculoskeletal conditions from impacting your quality of life. Chiropractic also helps to relieve some of the pain caused by bad posture habits, such as looking down at your phone.
If you are suffering from ‘text neck’ and the pain is becoming a real issue, then it’s important you seek professional help. Research on the internet will provide you with some effective stretching techniques, but your best bet is to book an appointment with me.
Chiropractors specialise in a ‘hands-on’ approach to spinal health and may be able to adjust and correct your health challenge.
To find out how chiropractic may benefit you, contact New World Chiro today.