What is text neck? Look around. You can probably see it right now. Someone is hunched over their phone, messaging with friends or checking out their twitter/instagram/facebook. So let’s call this whole phenomenon ‘smartphoning.’
There was some research released a couple weeks ago1 showing the stresses associated with bending the head forward. With every degree that your head bends forward, there is an increase in the stress on your neck and upper back.
According to Flurry, an app analytics firm, we spend 127 minutes/day staring at our phones. I don’t see anyone holding their phone up in front of their face, so we are all bending our heads looking down to some degree. The head weighs about 10lbs, give or take a couple pounds. As the head bends, the forces on the neck and upper back increase. At 60 degrees, there are 60lbs of force being placed on the spine – about the weight of my 8 year old.
So what does that mean for your spine? Bending your head forward for extended periods leads to straightening of your spine, resulting in degeneration of the bones and joints in the spine. This will affect the function of your spine and show up as pain and stiffness in the neck and upper back. If it progresses far enough, it will eventually press on the nerves resulting in pain shooting down the arms.
Here are some tips to ensure that the spine retains its proper curve in the neck:
Limit the amount of time spent looking down at your phone.
Sleep on your back with a contoured pillow. This will allow the curves in the pillow to support both your neck and your head.