While virtually unheard of just a few years ago, “text neck” is becoming just as common as a cell phone company’s annual contracts.
According to the Cleveland Clinic Health Hub, this condition is a repetitive strain injury that smartphone users get from consistently hunching over their devices. The aggravating muscle pain in the neck and shoulders, and sometimes lower back, is occurring even in teens and adolescents.
You may think this is a lot of pain for such a small piece of equipment, but it all depends on how you look at it – literally.
Robert Bolash, MD, a pain specialist at Cleveland Clinic says when you look down at your phone, your head drops, which changes the curvature of your neck. With the changed position of your neck, the neck moves forward, along with your shoulders, or they can lift up toward your ears, which will cause your neck and shoulder muscles to spasm.
“Neck muscles, in their proper position, are designed to support the weight of your head, about 10 to 12 pounds,” says Dr. Bolash. “Research shows that for every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on those muscles. Looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck.”
Sitting in this slumped position can also restrict your lungs’ ability to expand, therefor impairing your lung capacity. When you inhale less oxygen, your heart needs to pump harder to distribute more oxygen-carrying blood through your body.
But don’t let the head-dropping keep you from your unlimited everything plan! Dr. Bolash says there’s three easy tricks to ban text neck: straighten your posture, arch your back and look forward. Instead of pulling your shoulders down and tilting your chin down to read content on your phone, try putting the screen of your phone at eye level.