SL Mag June 2018

Page 12

Does your child have ‘text neck’? C hildren are spending long periods of time looking down at their phones, tablets and laptops. Looking at these devices pulls the head forward, slouching the upper back and shoulders, which causes strain on the neck. Muscle spasms, chronic shoulder tightness, headaches and even neurological numbness and tingling that radiate into the arms and hands are common symptoms.

such as suggesting to go outside and take a walk, garden, play with friends or family members, or walk the dog. • HAVE GOOD POSTURE. Sitting up straight with your shoulders and head back requires strong core muscles. Most people do not use these muscles enough throughout the day to keep them strong, so specific exercises are necessary to strengthen the abdominals and upper back muscles.

“Text neck” can lead to serious lifelong problems, such as severe postural changes, herniated discs and early-onset arthritis, but it is easily preventable.

• CARE FOR YOUR NECK. Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the neck can help avoid stiffness and pain. To stretch the upper trapezius, lean your head to one side, trying to touch Here are some ways to prevent “text neck”: your ear to shoulder and hold 30 seconds. Repeat it on the other side. Chin tucks can help strengthen the deep neck flexors that • HOLD YOUR PHONE AT EYE LEVEL. Leaning your head forward weaken with a forward head posture. Try lying on your back, tuck just 30 degrees puts roughly 40 pounds of force on your neck. your chin back (give yourself a double chin) and hold 10 seconds. Over time, this can cause excessive strain to the neck muscles The progression of these exercise should be safely taught under the and pressure on the small joints of the cervical spine, leading to neurological symptoms and pain. All screens should be high enough guidance of a physical therapist. that your eyes meet the middle of the screen. Smartphones are not going away, but we can be smarter about how we use them. Teach your kids how to look at their phone • TAKE REST BREAKS. Kids are not moving enough. I tell my with a neutral spine and avoid spending long hours on their patients to set an alarm, put the device away and get up every 30 minutes. In a world where there is an app for everything, we need to devices. If you are concerned about their neck posture, or they are be encouraging our children to get up and move. Recommendations already having symptoms, schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist. Some physical therapy clinics, such as TheraCORE, offer made by the American Academy of Pediatrics state that children complimentary injury screenings where a physical therapist can should have no more than two hours or less of sedentary screen assess your child’s posture and make recommendations to prevent time daily. Limit screen time for children by taking simple steps, long-term damage. 12 | JUNE 2018 | SUBURBAN LIFE MAGAZINE

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