Updated: Sep 8
Just look around you, everyone has their heads down. Text Neck or Tech Neck, as it is often called, is not a secret but rather an obvious problem with unknown long term consequences.
The average human head weighs about 10-12 pounds but as the neck, or Cervical Spine, bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
The weight of the head is a key factor for text neck pain. The neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments are meant to support the head’s weight in a neutral position balanced atop the cervical spine. When texting on a phone, it is common to bend the head forward and look down at a 45- or 60-degree angle, which places about 50 to 60 pounds of force on the cervical spine.
On average we spend two to four hours per day hunched over, reading emails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines and teenagers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position.
As you stretch the soft-tissue of the neck for a long period of time, it gets sore and inflamed. It can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, restricted blood flow to the brain, herniated disks and, over time, it can remove the neck’s natural curve. “The most alarming part of this epidemic is the amount of kids and teenagers who come in to my office complaining of headaches and neck pain. Kids this young should not be having these types of symptoms and this is where I would put the onus on the parent to correct this bad habit.”
Adjustments to Prevent Text Neck:
1) Raise the phone. Move the phone (and other devices) up closer to eye level so the head does not have to be tilted forward.
2) Take frequent breaks. Spend some time away from the phone—or any type of head-forward posture. If needed, use an alarm or app to set automatic reminders to take breaks from handheld devices.
3) Stand up straight. Good posture, chin slightly elevated and shoulders pulled back, keeps the body aligned in a neutral position.
4) Arch and stretch. Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain and activate the often deactivated muscles.
5) Exercise regularly. A strong, flexible back and neck are more able to handle the extra stress. Some research indicates that teenagers who are active in low-impact team sports or endurance sports are less likely to have neck pain