Is Texting Bad For Your Neck? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 05, 2015

Is Texting Bad For Your Neck?

Consistently looking down at your phone may quite literally be a pain in the neck.

Consistently looking down at your phone may
quite literally be a pain in the neck.

No matter where you are – in a coffee shop, on public transportation, walking down the street or at your own dinner table – look around and you’ll likely see just about every person around you looking down at their smartphones.

While some experts say this constant tie to our phones causes an unhealthy distraction from the “real world” around us, new research shows that it may actually be detrimental to your health.

According to a study published in Surgical Technology International, looking down at your phone is quite literally a pain in the neck.

An adult head typically weighs between 10 to 12 pounds when it’s in a neutral position. But as soon as you begin to tilt your head forward, the amount of weight your neck has to support dramatically increases. The study found that tilting your head forward just 15 degrees surges the amount of pressure on your spine to 27 pounds. Depending on how far forward you tilt your head, that pressure can add up to a whopping 60 pounds of pressure on your neck and spine.

Now consider how much time you sit, head tilted looking down at your phone. On average, people spend two to four hours each day in this position while texting, playing games and reading on their phones. During the course of one year, that adds up to 700 to 1,400 hours of that increased pressure and stress on your neck and spine. Or, if you’re talking about a typically phone-obsessed high school student, that figure increases to up to 5,000 hours.

The study showed that, over time, sitting with this poor posture can cause the loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine, which ultimately means a hunched-forward position. If this happens, the stress on your spine increases incrementally and can lead to early wear, tear and degeneration of the spine, not to mention the possibility of surgeries to correct the injury.

Since smartphones, tablets and other devices won’t be going away any time soon, what can you do to avoid injury without neglecting your texting-fiend friends?

You should make a concerted effort to look at your phone with a neutral spine and avoid spending hours hunched over your devices. The study defines good posture as having your ears aligned with your shoulders and your shoulder blades drawn back. This is the most efficient position to sit in, putting no stress on your spine.

And, of course, simply spending less time on your smartphone can also help.

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