A Chiropractor Is Warning Parents Of ‘Nintendo Neck’

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Many kids have been enjoying using their cell phones and playing video games during the summer break – maybe a little too much.

Dr. Cheryl Vincent from the Simsbury Chiropractic and Wellness Center is now warning parents about “Nintendo Neck”, a condition caused by overuse of electronics.

What exactly does Nintendo Neck mean?

  • Also referred to as text neck, it simply refers to the neck pain caused by looking down at video game screens, cell phones and laptops for extended periods of time.
  • Most people also slouch and hunch their shoulders while using electronics, putting a great deal of stress on the spine.
  • Patients as young as elementary school are affected

Is it just strain on the muscle from bending the neck?

  • It’s actually the added weight of a person’s head and on average, your head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. So if you lean 15 degrees forward, it’s as if your head weighs 27 pounds.
  • So when you’re hunched over at a 60 degree angle, like most of us are many times throughout the day, you’re putting a 60 pound strain on your neck. The weight puts extra pressure on discs in the neck and spine as well.

Patients also complain of shoulder pain, headaches, elbow, wrist, and hand pain, and even thumb pain from excessive texting.

Carpal tunnel is an issue for anyone whose work conditions or electronic use calls for repetitive, forceful or awkward hand movements like typing or using only the thumbs for video controllers.

Tips to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Keep the wrist as straight as possible when using devices.
  • Minimize repetitive movements of one’s fingers and thumb when using handheld electronic devices, especially for single-hand use.
  • Take regular rest periods, so as to avoid continuous intensive use.
  • Allow recovery time to prevent prolonged stress to the muscles.

How can parents and kids prevent Nintendo Neck?

  • Squeeze shoulder blades together.
  • Stretch your neck and shoulders in directions at least every hour if you are working on a computer all day.
  • Practice to keep your neck back and keeping your ears over your shoulders.
  • Stand up against the wall and make snow angel wing movements to release your neck and upper back.

Vincent defines the following as “overuse” of electronic devices:

  • Kids shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time on gaming or computers without taking a break to move and stretch.
  • Two hours total per day seems to be more than enough.
  • It is recommended that children get 1-2 hours of physical activity per day.
  • Those early years of movement are extremely important for laying the foundation of core strength of the postural muscles that keep us straight throughout our life.
  • Those muscles come on in layers and it’s really important to get them and keep them.

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