Sharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

Text NeckTechnology has given us many wonderful things: smarter homes, safer cars, messaging in an instant, the ability for a lot of us to work from almost anywhere, and so many other great advancements that help us both professionally and personally.

On the flip side, technology has also given us some not-so-great things: weight issues from lack of exercise, eye strain, wrist issues, posture problems from incorrect sitting, and sitting too long, headaches, and a number of other unpleasant things. Studies show that 60% of Americans develop technology related health issues. Now, on top of everything else, we have Text Neck Syndrome. 

Text Neck Syndrome is defined as: A repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by having your head in a forward position for an extended period. The forward pending posture affects the curvature of the cervical spine, the neck and shoulder muscles, and supporting ligaments.

In simpler terms, we are all walking (or sitting) around looking down at our phones and it’s hurting our necks.  We are either looking for, sending, reading, or receiving text messages. Believe it or not, your head can weigh up to 12 pounds. Depending on how far you bend your neck, you are asking your neck to hold up to 60 pounds of pressure. That is a lot.

The symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome are as follows:

  • Nerve pain or numbness in your upper arms and/or neck.
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Decreased range of motion in your neck or shoulders due to stiffness
  • Nagging or constant pain in your neck, shoulders, or upper back
  • Dizziness

If you are suffering from Text Neck Syndrome, there are things you can do to help relieve your numbness, pain, and stiffness:

  • If you can, take an OTC anti-inflammatory.
  • Apply ice for the first day or so and then, if necessary, switch to heat.
  • Severe cases may require a doctor and possible physical therapy, but lighter cases can be helped by a visit to a chiropractor and/or doing neck strengthening exercises like yoga stretches and chin tucks.

If you don’t have Text Neck Syndrome, but you think you might be a candidate, there are several things you can do to hopefully keep yourself from falling prey to this ailment:

  • When writing, reading or sending text messages, hold your phone eye level so you aren’t looking down.
  • Take breaks from your phone every 15-20 minutes.
  • If possible, set your phone on a stand that raises it off the table or desk, in an upright position, so when you look at it, you aren’t looking down.
  • Do neck strengthening exercises like yoga stretches or chin tucks to strengthen your neck.

On top of Text Neck Syndrome, medical professionals are also seeing Texting Thumb. Texting Thumb is a tendon problem in the thumb(s), usually accompanied by pain and swelling at the joint along with tenderness and stiffness. There may also be a clicking sound when bending the thumb. Apparently human thumbs are not built to take the constant, repetitive movements associated with texting. In short, we are rubbing our thumbs the wrong way.

Treating this malady is almost the same as text neck syndrome. Phone breaks, OTC anti-inflammatory, ice then heat, and thumb strengthening exercises. You can also purchase a thumb brace to immobilize your thumb and its joints. 

The best way to prevent text thumb is to let your cell phone do the work. Smart phones have a texting feature that lets you speak your texts instead of typing. Dr. Melody Mathews, DC and medical instructor, says there is a direct link between text neck syndrome and texting thumb. If you have one, you are probably on your way to getting the other, if you don’t have both already. Prevention is the first course of action but if symptoms do arise, try to address them at the first sign of trouble so your condition doesn’t become serious or chronic.

Everybody sends and receives multiple texts a day, even kids. It’s a great tool that helps us in our everyday lives both professionally and personally. The key is to do it in a proper, safe and healthy manor. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to put the phone down and talk face to face?

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at

Exercises for Text Neck Syndrome 

Listed below are some exercises that could prevent text neck syndrome. These exercises should not increase pain. If your pain increases, then stop and contact your healthcare provider or physical therapist. 

1. Chin tuck:

Start in a upright sitting position, gently tuck your chin as if you are making a double chin. Make sure your nose and chin are facing forward, not downward. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat for 30 repetitions. 

2. Scapular Retraction:

Start in a upright sitting position. Tighten the muscles between your shoulder blades and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 30 times.  

3. Pectoralis Stretch: 

Place one hand onto a door frame, up to your shoulder level. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch along your chest. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side. 

4. Foam Rolling Series:

For upper back mobility and anterior shoulder mobility.