Text Neck

The human head can weigh anywhere between 5 and 11 pounds. That might not seem like very much weight, but those few pounds can put quite a strain on your neck. Even if your posture is perfect, and you’re holding your head upright, there’s still going to be at least 5 to 11 pounds of pressure on your spine. There’s no avoiding that; that’s just the weight of your head and gravity at work. However ,as soon as your head starts bending forward, the pressure on your spine increases beyond just the weight of your head.

When would you bend your head forward? Well, any time you look down at your phone to make a call, respond to emails, send a text, check your Facebook status, or fritter away time. New research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine suggests that the growing use of smartphones is having some negative affects on our physical health.

When most people look at their phones, they hold them down low and crane their neck forward to see the screen. According to Hansraj’s research, the farther you tilt your head forward, the greater the pressure on your spine. At 15 degrees there is 27 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine, at 45 degrees there is 49 pounds of pressure, and at  60 degrees there is 60 pounds of pressure on your spine.

They’re calling this poor posture and the resulting pain “text neck”. According to their research, text neck can damage your spine over time, and in some cases, lead to conditions requiring surgery. The average smart phone user will spend anywhere between 2 to 4 hours looking down at their phone. If you have 60 pounds of pressure on your spine for 4 hours a day, you can definitely do some damage to your body.

Hansraj says that this problem is especially bad with young people who spend an even greater amount of time looking down at their phones. He cautions that without addressing the text neck problem, physicians may see an increase in young patients with spinal issues.

There are ways to alleviate text neck.

  • Instead of holding your phone in your lap and dropping your head forward to look at it, hold your phone higher and look down with your eyes.
  • Do exercises to strengthen the muscles in your neck.
  • Simply limiting the time you spend on your phone can be a great help.
  • Practice good posture in general to avoid extra strain on your neck and spine.

For any issues with your back, neck, or spine, talk with your health provider. You might also want to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor.