How many times have you caught yourself lost in your phone as your chin drops ever closer down to your chest? Before you know it your neck is stiff, you don’t feel all that great, and you may even get a bit of a headache.
The constant bending down of the head while on a phone is where the popular term “text neck” developed. Text neck is a term used describe the forward head posture and resulting strain of the neck that is formed after prolonged use of mobile devices. The number of U.S. smartphone users was estimated to be more than 230 million in 2018, which roughly corresponds to ten percent of the estimated number of all smartphone users worldwide for that year. The United States is one of the biggest markets for the smartphone industry worldwide. Given the amount of time we all spend on our phones these days, it’s no wonder that it’s become common to have a stiff neck and shoulders and a headache every day.
A recent study looked at 180 children and teenagers with six months or more of neck and shoulder pain. All of them spent an average of five to seven hours a day on their smartphones and handheld devices. They were all observed to have their neck bent forward at an angle greater than 45 degrees. No wonder there are many more cases of degeneration and misalignment in the lower parts of the neck these days than there were 10 years ago.
In the short term, tight muscles in both the neck and shoulders is a given. The spinal cord is also stretched a bit and creates a bit of distress on the nervous system. This can lead to fatigue and even a bit of nausea in some people. But I want you to be aware that there may be serious underlying health problems developing in your brain and body as well.
Because this is a constant habit, it can cause chronic conditions. One of the most significant effects can be the stress response created from the forward head posture that is created. Research shows that every inch forward that the head goes, it adds about 10 pounds of weight that must be handled by the muscles, ligaments and bones of the neck, which strains them and gives you headaches, neck aches and back aches. It also starts to train the muscles to stay in that position, which is very bad for you. Done chronically, this causes degeneration and arthritis of the neck and cervical spine. It also decreases brain function.
Another thing it does is by having your neck tucked into your chest and is forward and down, you are diminishing lung capacity by as much as 20% to 30%. This can really affect people with asthma, OPD, and emphysema. Also, the muscles in the front of the neck which help with breathing become tight and weak. Oxygen to the brain and body is decreased. Blood pressure has to rise to pump more oxygen to tissues. High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (strike and heart attack).
I recommend a few things to help with this issue of text neck. First, create a new cell phone habit. Hold it in your hand, tuck your elbow in to your side, and hold your phone about chest height and out in front of you. Catch yourself every time your chin starts to drop and hold it back up again. Second, do regular posture exercises and stretches for your neck and upper back.
Finally, come see me to get a thorough examination with respect to your posture, muscle strength, brain and nerve function, and spinal mobility and alignment. If you are constantly looking down at your phone, you may want to get on a regular schedule to get your upper cervical neck aligned properly to reduce the strain on it. We offer a free evaluation to determine if your upper cervical spine is in the proper shape and working correctly. We specialize in making sure your head is on straight, ensuring proper spinal health. Call us at Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for your free consultation today, 239-243-8810!
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.