Have you heard of the so-called ‘text’ neck?
Text neck is a condition caused by excessive strain on the spine due to the position of the head, neck and shoulders in individuals who spend most of their time with their heads bent, looking at a mobile device, laptop, computer or video game console. Holding your head in this position for long periods of time can lead to a number of potential symptoms, including headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders and arms.
YOUR HEAD IS HEAVY
The average weight of an adult’s head is about 5 and a half kilogrammes. It puts additional strain on the neck when the head is bent forward and down in the position a person takes when texting on a mobile phone. In this position, the pressure that is exerted on the cervical part of the spine increases so much that:
• At an angle of only 15 degrees, it seems as if your head weighs 12 kilogrammes.
• At an angle of 40 degrees, the load increases to 22 kilogrammes.
• And at an angle of 60 degrees, the load is an incredible 27 kilogrammes.
Holding the head at a 60-degree angle is not uncommon. We usually take this position when searching for something on the phone or sending messages. Notice how many passengers on buses or trains are texting or googling with their heads held at that angle. Those who use Facebook, Instagram or TikTok generally hold their head at an angle of 15 degrees and therefore put less strain on their neck.
DO YOU SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE?
It is estimated that adult, able-bodied people use their smartphones between 2 and 4 hours a day, and even more alarming is the fact that mobile phones are around us 22 hours a day. This means that most adults hold their head in a position that could be considered the equivalent of carrying a school-age child on their shoulders for several hours a day. You don’t need to be a physical therapist to figure out that this will cause neck problems very quickly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT text neck?
For example, you could try not using your phone for a day or two a week, which is unlikely. You can also make more phone calls and less texting or emailing, and use your headphones more often while on the phone. You can also consider the following options:
• Use voice messaging apps.
• Straighten your head when using a mobile phone so that it is not tilted too far forward.
• Use prediction functions for the text you plan to write, to speed up sending the message.
• Hold the phone at eye level more often to avoid bending your head, i.e. holding it in a position that puts significant strain on the neck. Bring your phone to your eyes, not your eyes to the phone!
• Take regular breaks and stretch your neck and upper back during them. Try to keep your head and neck in a normal anatomical position. Use mobile phones less and observe and engage in life around you more. From time to time, lie on the floor and stretch your neck and spine, that is, do exercises for cervical retraction.
• Make an appointment with your chosen physiotherapist if the pain persists or worsens despite the above suggested changes or if you need further clarification on how to manage your text neck problem.
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