Kenneth Hansraj, Chief of Spinal Surgery in New York, has published research to the National Library of Medicine regarding "Text Neck". He describes an epidemic resulting from the dangerous effects of the chronic use of smart phones and electronics, as they lead to poor posture, wear and tear on the spine, degeneration and surgery. The danger lies in the fact that we are oblivious to the stress we are placing upon our bodies, and we can be wholly unconscious of the damage we are causing until we develop symptoms such as headaches, neck & back pain, arm tingling & numbness, carpel tunnel and tennis elbow. Once symptoms have developed, it is much more difficult to correct the damage!
The human head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, but as it angles forward the weight on the cervical spine is increased dramatically. At only 15 degrees, the weight is doubled, at 30 degrees it is 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees (an angle many use to read from their smart phone or tablet) it is 60 pounds!!! One writer I read on the subject pointed out that this is the weight of a typical 6 year old child. How many of us would choose to read our text while a 6 year old is sitting on our head??? And yet this is what many of us do!
Even as I write this article, I have my cell phone on my desk. When I hear the familiar buzz, my temptation is to pick up the phone and look down at it! I find that if I don't intentionally position the phone in a manner that is not straining my neck (lifting it up to eye level), BEFORE I open the screen, then I will be too caught up in reading the new text to correct it after. Here is a suggestion. For a short time, put an elastic band around your phone. When you see the elastic, it will remind you to lift the phone to eye level. Yes, your arms will get tired and you won't be able to read for too long, but that is the secret- you shouldn't read for too long! Prop your arms on the side of your chair/desk to take some of the strain off them.
Get checked regularly with network spinal analysis to see if you have created some issues with your forward head carriage, and resolve them before they become symptomatic. Make sure that those you care about- particularly children and teens with their developing spines- are checked regularly by a chiropractor and monitored with their use of electronics. Join us for our next posture workshop and learn some exercises you can do at home to fight the effects of text neck.