UCS or upper crossed syndrome sounds obscure, but we see it every day. First dubbed “Text Neck” by Dr. Dean Fisher in 2008, the condition is seen by many as a scourge of 21st-century technology.
Fishman coined the term when a mother brought in her 17-year-old daughter who was complaining of headaches and neck pain. As the mother described the symptoms, Fishman looked at the girl, hunched over her smartphone. “I knew I had something,” he said.
Millions of people, especially young people, spend inordinate amounts of time texting, gaming, posting to social media. The American average is 4.9 hours every day—a figure arrived at by a 2015 Informate Mobile Intelligence report. The figure is surely higher for teens and preteens. Given the world as it is, that’s only going to get worse. But why is the posture so potentially harmful?
What’s the Cost of Texting?
The average human head weighs about 10 pounds—but for every inch the head hangs forward, the amount of weight put on the spine increases by 10 pounds. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.
According to Kenneth K. Hansraj, M.D., chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, in New York, New York, this posture often results in a loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine, leading to increased spinal stress. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly even surgeries.
Massage to Rescue Text Neck
So much for the bad news. What’s the remedy? Massage therapy can provide the damage control needed to combat text neck and other injuries of the digital age. Among its benefits, massage reduces muscle tension and stiffness, increases range of motion, fosters the healing of strained muscles and ligaments, reduces the pain and swelling of overused muscles and tissues, promotes blood and lymph circulation, and improves posture.
More is Better
Furthermore, recent studies indicated that frequency of massage is a key factor. opens in a new windowStudy researcher Karen Sherman, the senior scientific investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, found that compared to those who got no massage, “people getting massage three times a week were almost five times as likely to have a clinically meaningful (i.e. important or noticeable) improvement in function and over twice as likely to report a clinically meaningful decrease in pain.”
Anyone who uses a smartphone, pad, joystick, laptop, or desktop computer—and that’s most of us—should not wait until the cumulative effects of digital device use bloom into a text neck, painful hands, or emotional stress. Frequent massage can help. Consider that convenience and cost both might argue for a premium massage chair in your own home. Just remember: regular massage therapy can defuse the effects of our ubiquitous devices and keep one’s mind and body ready for the next challenge of the digital age.
We recommend the Panasonic MA73 for “text neck” as it offers one of the best neck massages on the market and it’s affordable.
“Text Neck.” Byward Massage Therapy Centre, 27 Jan. 2015, bywardmassage.com/text-neck/.
Menehan, Karen. “The Text Neck Explosion-and Other Injuries of the Digital Age.” MASSAGE Magazine, Massage Magazine, 23 Sept. 2015, www.massagemag.com/the-text-neck-explosion-32654/.
Doheny, Kathleen. “Timing Is Key to Massage’s Benefits for Neck Pain.” WebMD, WebMD, 14 Mar. 2014, www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20140314/timing-is-key-to-massages-benefits-for-neck-pain-study#1.