Believe it or not, the average adult spends 1,400 hours a year hunched over a Smartphone. This constant "forward or anterior head position" (also known as humpback posture) often leads to unexpected problems. The most prevalent disorder is “Text Neck." I'd like to share some tips for avoiding Text Neck and several relief exercises that are quick and easy to do.
”Text Neck" is the overuses of neck, back, and shoulder muscles causing strain on the spine. It usually occurs when looking forward and downward for extended periods of time on mobile devices and objects such as computers, tablets and Smartphones. Symptoms include chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, shortness of breath, numbness in the arms, and neurological issues.
An adult’s head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. People often drop their head 60 degrees when looking at their Smartphones. But the force exerted on your head when viewing something on a Smartphone, at 60 degrees, is equivalent to 60 pounds pulling on your neck. That's the average weight of an 8-year-old! Tilting the head downward increases the gravitational pull on the skull.
This added weight on the spine can deteriorate the back and neck muscles to the point of needing surgery. Permanent damage can consist of some of the following conditions: spinal disc compression, decrease in spinal curve, loss of lung volume capacity, and spinal disc herniation.
Tips to avoid Text Neck
- Make an effort to stay in a neutral position so that your ears are aligned with your shoulders.
- Simply hold your phone in front of your face while keeping your back straight.
- If you look down at your device, do it with just your eyes.
Avoid spending hours each day hunched over, allow time for frequent breaks.
- Align your ears with your shoulder and retract your shoulders, while moving head from left to right several times
- Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against your hands, first forward then backwards.
Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen the muscles of good posture.
Here are some online resources I've found helpful regarding Text Next, if you'd like to know more:
So the next time you use your Smartphone, just imagine the weight of an 8-year-old hanging on your neck. And I bet you'll find it easier to be more aware of your Smartphone posture.
Angelica Patterson is a Health Fitness Specialist at Lenbrook. She leads a variety of weekly health and wellness classes for residents in the Lenbrook Fitness Center, such as Aerobics, Circuit Training and Balance. Angelica holds a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from Southern Arkansas University.