Watch out! Pay attention!…these are things you may hear as you walk down the street with your eyes looking down at your phone while you reply to that last text message. Aside from impacting your immediate physical health from falling 30 feet down that manhole in front of you, constantly looking down at your phone has an even greater impact on your health than you may think.
In my last blog, I talked about the importance of maintaining a nice curve in your neck. If you missed it, you can find it here. Things that can reduce the curve of our neck include physical trauma, poor posture, and repetitive stress- such as constantly looking down at something. Given that nearly 80% of the population has a cell phone on them 22 out of 24 hours a day, I would say that most people are repetitively looking down at their phones and last I checked, gravity does not take any days off.
What is Text Neck?
While it may not be an official term yet, most scientific publications are stating that ‘text neck’ is at epidemic levels. Symptoms of text neck include:
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Cervical nerve impingement
This can also lead to more chronic issues such as degeneration of the vertebral bones, headaches, and not to mention irritating the nerves that leave the spine.
How Does Text Neck Affect Your Spine & Health?
Because of the effects of gravity, for every 15 degrees of forward head posture we can expect to add about 15 lbs to the weight of our head. That means that at 60 degrees the added weight of our head can be as much as 60 lbs!! This puts immense stress on the muscles of our neck. These muscles become stretched and strained and are unable to help us maintain that natural curve in our spine. The bones of the spine then move out of place or become restricted in their motion. This puts pressure on the nerves that leave the spine that go to places like your sinuses, neck, and even our heart! Leading to more chronic health issues that go beyond just an aching neck.
Text Neck Solutions
- Improve your posture – Hold your phone up at eye level. While this may appear “awkward” to the passerby, your neck will thank you later. The same applies to your computer at work; make sure the screen is at eye level to help you avoid looking down. If you have to look down, only use your eyes if you can help it, save your spine!
- Take breaks – Try not to look down at your phone for more than 30 seconds at a time. This prevents over stressing the elastic fibers of your neck.
- Exercise – performing neck stretches and strengthening exercises can help restore the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that surround your spine. Ask us for some of our favorite, simple exercises that you can perform for your neck.
- Get adjusted – Lastly, but possibly most importantly, is to get your spine checked for subluxations. These are caused from bones being restricted in their motion putting pressure on the nerves. By removing subluxations this not only takes pressure off the nerves but can also help maintain or promote a more natural curve in your neck.
So the next time you feel the need to look down to send that text message, remember its not only your health that could be impacted but also the health of the person reading that message. I’d suggest giving that person a call instead, I bet they’d love to hear your voice on occasion!