The human head is heavier than most people realize. Weighing an average of 10 pounds, the head can put a great deal of pressure on the neck when placed in different positions – especially when constantly looking down at your phone.
The damage caused to the neck from time spent staring at mobile screens has been given the name “Text Neck”, and it is a growing problem among not only teens but for everyone.
Your body is well-designed to bear the weight of your head when you maintain good posture – but tilting your head down to look at your phone is not good posture. In fact, for every inch you move angle your head downward, you double the pressure on your spine.
Looking at your phone can put an extra ten or twenty pounds of pressure on your neck. That would be worth noting even if you only did it occasionally, but most people spend hours looking at their phones throughout the day. That amounts to hours of excessive pressure on the soft tissues that make up your neck – pressure that will inevitably lead to inflammation and discomfort if left unchecked.
According to this article featured in the Washington Post, the pressure you put on your neck by bending and staring at your phone is much like bending your finger back as far as it will go, and then keeping it in that position for approximately an hour. Day after day, such stress is bound to lead to complications.
The strain put on the neck by text neck is enough to cause mild to severe injuries, including:
These injuries can cause considerable pain and discomfort and may lead to further health complications. They can lead to neck and back pain that can last for years.
Smartphones offer numerous benefits and opportunities for enjoyment, so it is unlikely that most people will stop using them. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself, including:
One of the simplest ways to avoid text neck is to look down with your eyes instead of tilting your head down. While it may not be practical to always use this technique, it is certainly useful in many circumstances. Your eyes can tilt down with little effort and can allow you to lessen the tilt of your neck as you use your phone.
You will inevitably do some head tilting as you use your phone throughout the day. Strengthening the muscles that support your head is one way to protect your delicate neck tissues and maintain mobility. Simple exercises like turning your head each way repeatedly and using your hands to provide resistance can make your neck much stronger. Your shoulders also provide a lot of support for your neck. Shoulder exercises can increase the stability of your neck as well.
Just maintaining awareness of how your head is tilted as you use your phone can help you avoid excessive tilting. Practice looking at your smartphone with your head upright to remind yourself of what good posture feels like, and pay attention during the times you deviate from good posture.
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Injury, Trauma & Spinal Rehabilitation Specialist