05/29/2015 06:14 EDT | Updated 05/29/2016 05:59 EDT

7 Easy Ways To Avoid The Aches And Pains of "Text Neck"

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Whether you are binge-watching your favourite show on your tablet, or can't seem to stop checking your handheld for information, your body may be suffering. Sunnybrook Physiotherapist Jaime Lau has some sound advice to ease any aches and pains.

Look Around

Looking down for sustained periods of time can significantly stress your shoulders, neck and back. Not only can that cause pain and discomfort, but stressed muscles are more prone to injury while performing other activities.

Hands Down

Holding up your tablet or handheld device for sustained periods can strain your shoulder, arm and finger muscles. Lau says although devices are lightweight, it's hard work for your body to hold them in static positions for extended periods of time.


Lau recommends the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a rest for 20 seconds and look 20 feet away.

Change Positions

With prolonged T.V. watching in bed, it's especially important to make sure good posture is supported and to change positions every 20 minutes. When sitting upright, put a pillow behind your back, under your knees and on your lap for support. On your side, place a pillow between your legs, under your arms and head. If your pillow is too flat or soft, roll a towel under your neck. On your stomach, put a pillow under your chest to support your shoulders and keep your tablet below eye level.


In addition to intermittently lifting your head and looking straight ahead, consider doing some gentle movements of the neck -- like bending side to side or turning your head - to relax the muscles. Roll your shoulders backwards a few times with your arms relaxed by your side. Try to get in the habit of looking up after every e-mail or while waiting for a text response. Get up, move and stretch during and in between episodes of your favorite show.

Minimize Gripping

Be aware of how long you are gripping your phone, and remember to open and close your hand and fingers intermittently to relax the finger and forearm muscles. Also, when handling a tablet or watching TV on your tablet, be sure to support it with a pillow or breakfast table to minimize strain to your shoulder and arm.

Be Old Fashioned

The next time you are watching TV, get up and change the channel manually. Or instead of texting and e-mailing, get up to talk to your neighbour or co-worker. Small movements throughout the day can help muscles stay active and limber. And the old saying holds true: moderation is key! Too much of anything -- including convenience -- isn't always good for you.

Co-authored by Monica Matys, Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.