As more and more people are becoming glued to their smartphones, medical professionals are warning people about a new condition called “text neck.”
If you’re at school or the breakroom at work it probably doesn’t take long to see more than a few individuals hunched over their cellphone. Responding to texts and sending that work email are important tasks, but you may be jeopardizing your neck health if you hunch your head down while typing away.
“It isn’t the best for our posture,” said Linda Scholl, a University of Utah physical therapist. “It’s not correct posture, but kind of leaning forward.”
Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a spine surgeon in New York, coined the condition “text neck.” He says the condition is caused by tilting a your head down while staring at your smartphone. According to Dr. Hansraj, teens are especially at risk, as some teens have spent an additional 5,000 hours on their phone compared to older adults.
Scholl agrees, saying teens and colleges students are spending more time than ever buried in their smartphones.
“People are spending more time leaning forward, paying attention to what’s in front of them, instead of having their posture upright and looking at the world around them,” Scholl said.
Scholl noted that people have hunched their heads in the past – be it by reading books or working at their desks – but these activities rarely cause a person’s neck to be in a poor position for such a long duration.
Text Neck Pain
Scholl went on to discuss just how much pressure you can put on your neck by tilting it forward. According to her, the human head weights about 12 pounds, and the farther forward you lean, the more weight is placed on the cervical spine. Once your tilt reaches 60 degrees, “you have about 60 pounds worth of pressure going through your spine. So that soft tissue has to hold the weight of the head in this forward position.”
In addition to neck issues, poor head position can lead to other side effects like reduced lung capacity, neurological problems and heart disease.
Preventing Text Neck
Text neck is a serious problem, but it can be prevented pretty easily. Follow these tips to avoid neck problems while texting.
- Mentally note where your neck location is every time you use your phone. When using your phone, try to keep it out in front of you. If it’s in your lap, you’re going to need to lean forward to use it.
- Regularly stretch and exercise your neck. Rotate your shoulders and neck at regular intervals.
- Don’t be glued to your cell phone. Sure, sometimes it’s very necessary to be on your phone, but the more you’re on it, the more likely you are to subconsciously slip into a poor posture.
If you suffer from neck pain, take a close look at your cell phone use. You may be doing harm without even realizing it!
Related source: Deseret News
Thomas Cohn, MD
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