‘Text-HUH?!? Yup, ‘Text Neck’ is apparently a ‘thing’ and it has been for many years. ‘Text Neck’ or ‘Tech Neck’ both refer to the head and spine position (posture) we have while staring down at our mobile devices (pictured above).
You know that ‘zombie’ posture you see when a herd of people are walking across the street, all staring straight down at their phones to make sure their Instagram photo is getting the proper amount of likes? Ring a bell?! Yup, it should, because this is the direction as a world society we are rapidly heading towards in regards to mobile technology. Scary stuff.
I think most of us would rather give up a kidney than our mobile device, it’s literally one of the most expensive and important items we own. Pretty soon, there will be a new experimental procedure to surgically attach your smartphone to your hand LOL. No but seriously, I think that’s in the works.
So what is there to know about ‘Text Neck’? Well, I’m here to tell you 3 cold hard facts about ‘Text Neck’ that you probably had no clue about…
- Text Neck can cause PERMANENT spine damage
There are around 6 billion people that roam this planet…and guess what?! 4 BILLION of those people own a mobile device. That’s Billion with a capital ‘B’.
The average mobile device user can look at their mobile device more than 150 times per day.
So these little statistics don’t seem like a big deal at first, but after a few days, weeks, months, and years you start to feel the effects without a doubt. I know what you are thinking…who cares about how much I look at my phone or tablet? Umm your spine certainly does.
Most, if not all, people look at their mobile devices with BAD posture. Meaning they are not aware that they are placing their head in front of their bodies and are looking STRAIGHT down at that Instagram feed.
Our big heads weigh anywhere from 12-16lbs depending on the size of our brains. Just kidding your head can be heavy with a small brain lol. So, when we keep our heads in this fixed position, even for a short period of time, it is adding SO much stress to our neck and shoulders. The weight of your head can add an extra 60lbs of pressure on your head, neck, shoulders, and most importantly your SPINE! Ouch, no thanks!
So before we even talk about the short term pain and stiffness that you are feeling after that game of candy crush, lets just cover the PERMANENT DAMAGE that develops. Your spine PROTECTS your spinal cord and nerves which, if you reminisce about 6thgrade science class, these are the MOST IMPORTANT structures in our bodies.
So when we continually add STRESS to our spines daily, they begin to BREAKDOWN at a rapid rate. The kind of stress I’m referring to is the STRESS we receive from our BAD posture on our mobile devices. Anything we continually add stress to in our lives, doesn’t last long…our cars, our bodies, you name it, nothing runs properly with excessive daily stress.
Once we ignore our bad posture, tightness, stiffness, and pain, the STRESS starts to effect the bones and joints in the spine itself. This is when the extra stress develops into what is commonly known as ‘Arthritis’ or ‘Degeneration’.
DE-GENER– WHAT? Degeneration! It’s basically a synonym for that dreaded Arthritis. Which in layman terms is a pre-mature deterioration of the bones and joints in our body. But I can’t have that cause I’m not OLD!? Right? NOPE. Just like our teeth, we can have bad spines at a young age if we are not taking care of it. And likewise, older people can have great spines if they take care of them.
I’ve seen spines of a 20year old look like a 60year old and vice versa. Being that the spine protects our most vital assets, brain & spinal cord, we REALLY, REALLY, what to try and avoid this pesky arthritis process. And just an FYI, once this process starts (which is sooner than you would think) it accelerates faster and is irreversible. So it’s a no-brainer, check your posture while you are reading this!
So LOOK UP! Be conscious of the time and the way you look at your mobile device! If you are old and over 30 like me, then this process luckily didn’t start until you were in high school when mobile phones became a ‘thing’.
But if you have had an iphone before you could crawl and walk like most kids nowadays, you are in BIG trouble long term if you don’t start to correct these bad habits. Take it from an old man, it doesn’t get any easier as time pushes forward and so does our dependence on technology.
2. ‘Text Neck’ can lead to MORE than just neck pain
New research is surfacing that proves that extended use of mobile devices can lead to Headaches, Neck Pain, and Back Pain.
Not to mention it can also affect our sleep patterns, moods, and stress levels.
Remember that time you got so into that game of Candy Crush that you had to rub your neck afterwards because it was sore? Yup, that’s just the beginning. Remember high school Anatomy class that you didn’t pay attention in? Well, the SPINE is super important!
So when you start to have neck tightness, stiffness, or especially pain, these are all warning signs you aren’t living your ‘best life’. This is just the first step…once the neck becomes a problem, the rest of the spine has to compensate. So, yup, you guessed it, the middle back and lower back will eventually follow suit. Once that happens you will not be a happy camper, trust me.
This initial stage of neck pain can progress faster than you might think. It can even lead to migraine headaches or numbness and tingling in your arms or hands. When extra stress is put on your neck and back, the body will start to breakdown. And this process becomes more and more likely, the longer you stare at that smartphone with bad posture. So now might be a good time for a Posture change? Yeah I agree…
3. Text Neck is PREVENTABLE
How can Text Neck be preventable?! I mean, I really, really, need to stare at my Instagram feed for 4 hours daily! LOL.
But seriously, AWARENESS is the first step. Knowing what GOOD Posture is versus BAD Posture is the best starting point to change your bad habits.
Next, setting limits on your smartphone time during the day/night is the next step. Technology in today’s world is pretty necessary to be efficient in our daily lives, but just cutting some time out from zoning out on our phones is vital for our health.
Besides setting limits on time, you can agree with your family or spouse to NOT use smartphones (besides for emergency calls) at certain events or times of the day. This is great as it holds everyone accountable to each other and aids in creating better habits.
For kids, giving some type of ‘non-smartphone’ related reward for following the guidelines would be great. i.e. the award can be they actually play outside for longer…imagine that, kids playing outside LOL.
But this could steer them away from technology and towards meaningful activity with their friends. As for us adults, simply creating an agreement with a spouse or family member would also be a great thing to do.
When we are 100 years old, I think those moments with our loved ones will be what we remember, not that Facebook post from your friend…Agree? Me too!
‘Text Neck’ is NOT a marketing gimmick or trick to get you to go see a doctor, it is REAL. The amount of time we look down at our phones and mobile devices is not even in the same universe as newspapers, etc. Thus, the effects from the mobile devices is 10x fold. Debate over.
So PLEASE use this blog post as a wake up call to be aware of your Posture and make some much needed changes in how you use your technology. Hell, even if you don’t care yourself, tell a friend or a family member. Most of us don’t even know what good posture is, so just telling a friend can make them aware. And in the long run can really improve their health for the better.
So don’t ignore the warning signs if you feel neck or back pain from looking at your mobile device! Talk to a Chiropractor or health care professional about your symptoms. And if you are not looking to sit in a waiting room, visit your chiropractor for regular adjustments and try the POSTURE PROTECTOR app in the meantime, available on the Google Play Store now. It will dim your screen or vibrate when you have bad posture.
Thus, it forces you to form better posture habits with your technology. And like we always tell our patients, be AWARE, LOOK UP, & be ACTIVE and enjoy your life! Life is about MOVEMENT of both with the MIND and BODY, and NOT about Facebook & Instagram! Make sure you get some LIKES on that new post and get out and MOVE!