Let’s face it, we love our smartphones. These miniature computers have pretty much taken the place of phones, maps, watches and cameras. We do much more than just talk on the phone with them. We send emails, play games and even watch movies. But did you know that all that time on your phone might be causing you pain? Of course, we’ve all heard of the drawbacks of too much time on the phone, from the social aspects that we’re isolating ourselves and not talking with people like we used to, to the scare that cellphones cause brain tumors. Thankfully this isn’t backed by science. But it is true that overuse of smartphones leads to a condition called text neck, which can lead to neck, shoulder and back pain, and even headaches or a pinched nerve.
How Text Neck Happens
Text neck comes from the simple act of looking down at your phone. You might think that seems exaggerated, since human beings have looked down at things for year. After all, you don’t often hear of people experiencing excrutiating back pain from reading. Reading and texting do put us in the same type of hunched over posture. The difference is we’re now on our phones more hours a day than people usually read or write at a desk.
According to the Washington Post, smartphone users spend about 2-4 hours per day hunched over the phone, which adds up to 700-1,100 hours per year. An adult head weighs about 10-12 pounds. When you lean forward to look at your phone, the gravitational pull adds the equivalent of about 60 extra pounds on your spine.
Not only does this extra weight lead to pain and headaches, researchers are studying whether text neck could cause permanent damage to the cervical spine in growing children, leading to lifelong neck pain.
Avoiding Text Neck
Luckily, there are some ways to avoid suffering pain from extended use of your smartphone.
- Avoid hunching over the phone by practicing good posture when you’re texting or playing games. Hold the phone up, or look down with your eyes and not your entire head.
- Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid long-term hunching.
- Be aware of your posture at other times too, when you’re shopping, watching TV or driving.
- Exercise regularly. Activities such as yoga or Pilates help improve the strength and flexibility of your back and shoulder muscles, making them better able to handle stress.
If you feel you’re already suffering from text neck, you might consider making an appointment for a consultation with Foster Chiropractic Sports and Wellness. We can work with you to ease your pain, improve your posture and give you exercises to strengthen your neck and back.