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Fitness Friday – Text Neck


Fitness Friday – “Text Neck”

Where your head is in space may be resulting in tension-type headaches, neck and upper back pain.

San Luis Sports Therapy is reminding you to do POSTURE CHECKS this holiday season, especially as the hustle and bustle of the holidays increases. You may find yourself spending more time at your computer or on your smart phone searching for the best deals with poor posture physically manifests as a tension-type headache, neck or upper back pain!


Many mobile technology and computer users develop neck pain and headaches due to:

-Sitting or standing incorrectly

-Working for long periods without periodic rest breaks

-Utilizing incorrect techniques

A recent article, “‘Text neck’ is becoming an ‘epidemic’ and could wreck your spine“, indicates that poor posture contributes to tension-type headaches, neck and upper back pain. The image below depicts how 60 degrees of neck flexion and forward head posture places 60 pounds of force on your beck and upper back; five to six times the average 10-12 pounds (the weight of the human head) of force on the neck and upper back when the head and neck are in neutral or zero degrees.

Text Neck Picture

Photo Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/11/20/text-neck-is-becoming-an-epidemic-and-could-wreck-your-spine/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

San Luis Sports Therapy’s QUICK TIPS to reduce tension-type headache, neck and upper back pain.

POSTURE CHECK – Improve your sitting posture

-Sit all the way to the back of your chair, so that your back is supported by the back rest of the chair.

-Seat Height: Thighs should be parallel to the floor, feet should be solidly supported on the floor or a footrest

-Head should be centered over the thorax – Avoid a forward head position

-Use a telephone headset to avoid bad neck postures

Reward yourself with task breaks

-Mini-breaks should be taken 2-3 times/hour to rest or stretch

-When not typing, rest hands in your lap or complete stretches prescribed by a physical therapist.

-Stand up and walk around every hour

-To reduce eyestrain, look a distance of 20 feet every 30 minutes or close your eyes to rest the muscles

-Alternate between a variety of work tasks to break up periods of working on a single repetitive task for a long period


Contact us at San Luis Sports Therapy, call 805.226.0975 or stop in at 1345 Park Street, Paso Robles CA 93446 for more ergonomic information on positioning and adjusting your computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and work surface to eliminate tension-type headaches, neck and upper back pain potentially related to your posture while you are using your computer, laptop or tablets.

How can Physical Therapy help to manage tension-type headaches, neck and upper back pain?

Not sure if your head or neck pain is caused by muscle tension or the joints in your neck (cervicogenic origin) and upper back? Schedule an appointment with our Physical Therapists at San Luis Sports Therapy or discuss your symptoms with your physician and ask for a referral for Physical Therapy at San Luis Sports Therapy.

Stiff joints in your neck (headache of a cervical spine origin) and upper back?

-Most commonly in “hatband” distribution of tightness on the head

-Facial pain along the cheeks and near the jaw bone

-Sensation someone is tugging on your hair

Text Neck Head Picture

Photo Source: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=fd8a18c8-1893-4dd3-9f00-b6e49cad5005#.VkZr3HarQdU

Severity of your symptoms can vary from very mild to disabling and most commonly do not occur daily but may be frequent or almost daily. These tension-type/cervical headaches differ from migraines in that migraines almost always build to severe pain, while tension-type or cervical headaches can be dull, moderate or severe and typically do not cause nausea or vomiting. Tension-type or cervical headaches are usually felt on both sides of your head (bilateral); however, may be only felt on one side (unilateral). Your symptoms typically will not be aggravated by routine exercise. Neck pain associated with headache alone is not necessarily associated with a diagnosis for cervical headaches, though a strong indicator is when your headache starts at the base or your head or neck area.

Generally women more than men are affected by headaches of this nature and a history of degenerative joint disease or trauma such as a motor vehicle accident are common.

How can Physical Therapy help your tension-type headaches?

The headache program at San Luis Sports Therapy seeks to identify those individuals whose headaches can be managed by Physical Therapy approaches and ruling out those headaches, such as migraine, cluster, traction or inflammatory headaches, needing to be referred to a physician for medical management. The program focuses on identifying the causative factors as well as teaching you self management techniques through exercise, posture, positioning and ergonomic principles.

Our Physical Therapist can help you manage your headaches by educating you on proper body mechanics, ergonomics and postures for activities both at home and at work. Sometimes the  solution is as simple as adjusting your computer work station or sleeping position to promote proper alignment ultimately reducing the tension in your muscles and eliminating your headache pain.

Your Physical Therapy plan of care is individualized based on your history, symptoms and severity of your condition, which will be discussed in your initial meeting with the Physical Therapist. Physical Therapists are experts in identifying and treating the source of your tension-type or cervical headaches including imbalances of muscles and alignment of the body both at rest (static posture) and during movement (dynamic posture). They restore normal joint movement and alignment using hands on manual therapy interventions such as joint mobilization (gentle techniques similar to chiropractic adjustments) and soft tissue mobilization (more commonly know as massage or trigger point therapy). Physical Therapists also restore muscle balance and alignment prescribing customized therapeutic exercise program to reduce muscle tension-type, improve postural strength and postural flexibility which you will be able to continue as a home exercise or gym program to maintain gains, manage any recurring headaches or ultimately keep your headaches at bay.

Physical Therapists utilize pain reducing and relaxing treatment techniques called modalities (cold packs, moist head packs and electrical stimulation) to help with episodes of severe pain or to reduce any soreness you may have in response to your treatment. You could be seeking Physical Therapy treatment for severe tension-type or cervical headaches, but you cannot imagine a Physical Therapist touching your head or neck let alone moving it around. Rest assured, Physical Therapists utilize pain reducing and relaxing treatment techniques called modalities (cold packs, moist heat packs and electrical stimulation) to help with episodes of severe pain. Once your episode of severe pain subsided and you are able to tolerate the other Physical Therapy treatment interventions, your long term recovery plan will be progressed. You should never have to experience that level of headache pain again!

Read more about modalities and steps that can happen during a Physical Therapy visit HERE!

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