Look around! Everyone, everywhere can be seen texting. The distinct posture of tilting the head forward forces the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments to strain to hold the head up has been labeled as “text neck”. The most common symptoms of “text neck” are neck pain, stiffness and soreness. In addition, looking down at your cell phone too much each day can lead to shoulder pain and tightness, muscle spasm, and upper back pain ranging from nagging to chronic pain.
A new study published in the Surgical Technology International suggests that looking down at a cell phone is the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight on one’s neck. Kenneth Hansraj, a New York back surgeon, found this figure using a computer model of a human spine. An average human head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, and tilting it down to send a text increases the gravitational pull. “As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees”
At Chait Chiropractic Center we are seeing signs of premature degeneration of the spine in patients who are decades younger than would typically be expected. In the past this type of wear and tear related damage has generally been more common in older adults. Dr. Chait is especially concerned about the potential health impact on teenagers, among the most frequent text message users, whose spines are still developing.
There are many ways to avoid straining the neck while texting:
•Move your cell phone to eye level so the head doesn’t have to be tilted.
•Stand up straight. Good posture, with the shoulders pulled back, keeps the body aligned in a neutral position.
•Change positions when texting. Lying on one’s back is an excellent way to relieve pressure on the neck.
•Arch and stretch. Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain.
•Take frequent breaks.
The bottom line is to avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day. Try being mindful of your posture. As a service to the community Dr. Chait offers complimentary posture analysis. Please call Chait Chiropractic Center at 941-371-1070 to schedule an appointment.