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Is My Neck Pain Caused by ‘Text Neck’?

By Stuart Maytham 06/03/2020

If you’ve ever complained of neck pain, you’ve probably been told by a well-meaning posture enthusiast that your phone is to blame.


‘Text neck’, they claim, is the reason for your suffering. You’ve been staring down at your phone for too long, and doing it too often. So it’s your own fault, really. 


But it’s okay. You just need to quit your addiction to social media, delete all your apps, and preferably dropkick your phone into the sea. 


Or… do you? Perhaps not.


Let’s investigate, so we can get to the root cause of your neck pain, and figure out what you can do about it that doesn’t involve tossing your expensive pocket computer in the bin.

The text neck argument 


The argument supporting text neck goes something like this:


  • More people than ever are using mobile phones
  • Instances of neck pain have also increased dramatically
  • People crane their heads forward when they use their phone
  • This forward-head posture increases the physical load on the neck’s muscles, joints and ligaments
  • Therefore, using a phone increases your risk of neck pain, which could result in irreversible damage


Is this based on scientific principles?


In a word: no. You can read up on the science here, but allow me to break it down for you:


  • There’s little correlation between posture and pain
  • Neck pain is more complex than any single factor (such as physical loading)
  • The load experienced with forward-head posture is low, relative to its capacity and our ability to adapt

Okay, so it looks like maybe text neck isn’t a real thing.

But even when shown the science, some people still argue that text neck is a thing. After all, having your head in a forward posture isn’t natural or normal, right?


The thinking goes:


  • A physiotherapist’s job is to get patients back to normal
  • Forward-head posture is not normal
  • Therefore, a physio’s job is to correct forward-head posture

But is that accurate?


Hmm, not quite. One of a Physio’s primary roles is to help their patients improve pain tolerance and movement, yes. And a good physio will encourage their patients to address lifestyle factors to help minimise the risk of the pain returning, of course.


But some physios believe that fixing an ‘abnormal’ posture is part of that, and that’s a problem. Because there is no definitive ‘normal’ posture.


People are all put together in roughly the same way, but there’s a huge amount of variance between individuals. Every body’s different. So trying to define an overarching ‘normal’ is unhelpful. Better, instead, to focus on what’s normal for you.


There’s a lot of evidence which shows that you can improve your neck pain and get back to your normal with some simple guidance and therapeutic movements. That’s why we’ve created a free Fix Your Own Neck Pain eBook which you can download using the link below.

Fix Your Own Neck Pain eBook

Learn about why you have neck pain and what the best FREE treatments are.