How many times a day do you look down at your phone?
Ever experienced upper back pain, shoulder pain and tightness, nagging to sharp pain or upper back muscle spasms? The time you spend checking your phone might have something to do with it.
The average American sends between 250 and 2,000 texts per month—that’s nearly 70 messages a day at the high end of the range. This being the case, it should come as no wonder that all this looking down is bad for your neck.
We’re sure you’ve heard about tennis elbow or runner’s knee. “Text Neck” is pretty similar, and, just like above-mentioned, it’s a condition that can get worse over time.
Dr. Neel Anand, a professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, says it isn’t a clinical diagnosis, but the theory behind it is both intriguing and concerning. “Research suggests that as the downward angle of the head increases — the way it must when we’re constantly looking down at our phones and other devices — so does the amount of weight [that] the neck is forced to carry as a result,” he notes.
A human head weighs, on average, around 10 pounds. If you’re the happy owner of a healthy spine, you never have to think about that weight; your neck manages it with ease. As you hunch your neck forward, the stress on your cervical spine increases exponentially. Some experts say that “the stress on your cervical spine doubles with every inch your head tilts down.”
How to reduce the effects of “text neck”?
At its core, “text neck” really involves 2 things that are in everyone’s control: posture habits and managing use of technology in general.
Whether you’ve seen this behavior in kids and young adults whose spines are still developing or you’re experiencing the pain first hand, here’s what you can do to minimize the impact that your mobile devices have on your spine health:
📵 Put the phone down
Missing a text message or taking your time to respond might be worth it when health is involved.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you’re committed to less screen time, you’ll soon welcome overall benefits, from improved mood, fewer headaches, better sleep. Your spine will definitely thank you in the long run, as well.
A few minutes of disconnecting from the virtual world and reconnecting with your body are priceless. Stiff muscles carry on a lot of weight, both physical & emotional, so learn how to unwind with a few stretches:
- Tilt your head from left to right a few times
- Look over your left shoulder, and then slowly turn your head to look over your right shoulder
- Roll your shoulders and neck – one way & then the other
👀 Look forward
Rather than tilting your chin down to read your mobile device, raise the device to eye level – yes, just like your grandma does it. The same goes for your desktop computer.
- Practice good posture habits all day long – prevention is key