Technology is a wonderful thing but it can also be a pain in the neck — literally.
Never before have we had the ability to connect to a world of knowledge on a device we can hold in our hand.
As great as technology can be, there’s a lurking danger to our posture and neck health.
Keep reading to learn more.
What is “Text Neck?”
Don’t move a muscle. Freeze in your current posture.
Chances are it’s anything but perfect.
If you’re reading this via your phone, the likelihood that your posture is poor is even greater.
Often posture flies incognito. It’s not a big deal, right?
While posturing may seem harmless at first, prolonged poor posturing can cause both short and long-term complications.
Text neck is starting to become known amongst clinicians and is, at its roots, a postural condition.
Because of poor posturing while using cell phone, symptoms can begin to develop and can range from mild stiffness to headaches to radiating, debilitating neck pain.
“Text neck” itself is defined as postural overuse involving the head, neck, and shoulders. (1)
The position of looking down applies tensile (stretching) stress to the muscles along our head and neck. The shift in position forces your otherwise dormant neck muscles to fire, fighting the pull of gravity. Maintaining this posture for as little as three minutes can lead to muscle strains and headaches. (1) An even worse scenario is that it may be damaging the discs in our spine if continued long-term.
The average head weighs between eight and 12 pounds. A simple head tilt of 15 degrees changes the arm of gravity, increasing the torque on the neck to 27 pounds. Shockingly, a head tilt of 60 degrees increases the mechanical advantage of gravity, which leverages your head to upwards of 60 pounds of torque. (2) Imagine walking around with an 8-year-old on your shoulders. It’s no wonder why tension-type headaches and neck pain are seeing spikes in incidence.
One study by Bonney and Corlett determined that 20 degrees of cervical flexion (looking down) over a one-hour period leads to shrinkage of the cervical spine. (3)
In other terms, the height of our cervical discs starts to collapse after one hour of looking down. Maintaining this posture for prolonged periods of time can lead to disc compression or possibly herniation.
What can we do to save our necks?
- Modify your posture: Hold or place electronic devices at eye level, allowing you to maintain a neutral head position.
- Limit time: Set timers or reminders for 30-minute intervals when using devices. If you are working take rest breaks as often as possible.
- Exercise: Use selective stretching and strengthening exercises to minimize the effects of poor posture, while making it easier to maintain proper posture. Seek a Physical Therapist for help in this arena.
The detrimental effects of sitting are well documented.
As personal devices continue to be the norm, text neck seems to show an unfavorable trend.
As uncomfortable as it may seem to make postural changes in the short term, the effects of poor posture will eventually come full circle and cause injury. Start making the changes today to prevent tomorrow’s pain!
1. Walter, Laura. “Text Neck: The Link Between Texting and Musculoskeletal Injuries.” EHS Today 27 Feb. 2013: Print
2. Bever, Lindsey. “Text neck is becoming an ‘epidemic’ and could wreck your spine.”Washington Post 20 Nov. 2014: Print
3. Bonney, R. A., and E. N. Corlett. “Head posture and loading of the cervical spine.” Applied Ergonomics 33.5 (2002): 415-417.
Struggling with neck pain?
If you experience neck pain or would like a more personalized approach to improving your posture, our Physical and Occupational Therapists can help.
Treatment is covered by insurance, no referral is needed to start, and with flexible appointments, you can find a time that works with your schedule.
Call 716-458-1990 or click here to schedule online: