The advent of the smart phone has forever changed our lives. We’re able to connect with people at anytime and anywhere with a few taps on our phone. Texting has become a game changer for communication. In the US alone, 8.5 billion texts are sent each day, but what we are learning though is that it comes with a cost-to our health.
The problem is the position the body gravitates to when texting-the head and mid back bent forward. Done repetitively enough the body begins to adapt to this position leading to weakness and tightness to muscles that promote proper upright posture and more importantly protect the sensitive stabilizing structures of the neck vertebrae. Over time this can manifest into upper back pain, neck stiffness, and even headaches.
A 2015 study, analyzing neck position while performing different activities with a cell phone showed text messaging while sitting puts the neck under the most deleterious stress. This was compared to watching videos and surfing the web in both seated and standing positions.
Where does the stress come from?
The weight of the head is the key factor. The neck muscles are meant to support the weight of the head (10-12 lbs) in a neutral position. However, many people look down at a 60-degree angle when texting on their phones, which places 60 pounds of force on their neck.
Tips for preventing Text neck:
- Bring your phone to you: raise your phone to near chin when reading or writing text message
- Be aware of your posture-stand up straight and bring your shoulders backward-sometimes it helps to squeeze your shoulder blades together several times to activate these muscles after prolonged forward posture.
- Give it a rest-limit your text session duration.
- Keep your fitness up: keeping your back and neck strong with exercise will allow to your endure the stresses of prolonged postures when using electronic devices.
Call us at (512) 659-5615 if you have any questions about neck pain that weren’t answered in this article.
Lee S, Kang H, Shin G. Head flexion angle while using a smartphone. Ergonomics. 2015;58(2):220-226.
Hansraj KK. Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head. Surgical Technology International. 2014;11(25):277-9.