A study from August 2016 showed that the average American spent 87 hours/month on their mobile devices (1). That breaks down to just about 3 hours per day. Spending that much time looking down at your phone can create some serious issues.
According to a 2014 study done by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, NY surgeon, looking down on your phone can cause the normal 10 pounds of pressure to skyrocket to 60 pounds of pressure on the cervical spine (your neck) (2). Take that increased pressure and figure in that your neck is under that kind of stress for hours each day, and Houston, we have a problem.
This not only causes temporary discomfort in regards to muscle tightness and spasms, but can lead to long-term degenerative processes, such as arthritis, spondylosis, and stenosis. Even discogenic issues like a herniated disc can evolve from this altered neck positioning. Believe it or not, hormonal changes, such as increased cortisol (the “stress” hormone), can also result when your neck is displaced in an abnormal position (3).
So how do you prevent these things from happening? Aside from chucking your phone out the window, there are some more viable options. One thing you can do is set a timer on your phone that limits you to a 20-minute session of activity. Once that timer goes off, put the phone aside and do some simple and easy neck stretches. Get moving! This will help to re-set the body’s normal biomechanical movements and decrease strain. You can also set a timer to simply check your posture and make sure you’re not hunkered down over the phone like a starving beast looking for a tasty treat. Memes aren’t everything.
Another thing you can do to avoid developing short-term or long-term issues related to “text neck” is to get checked by your chiropractor. Just like you get your teeth checked by the dentist to avoid insidious issues, you should regularly get checked by the chiropractor to ensure your spine isn’t developing abnormal biomechanical and neurological mechanisms that can lead to problems down the road.
“Text neck” IS preventable, but you have to be willing to put in the work to avoid developing the issue!
Chaffey, Dave. “Mobile Marketing Statistics Compilation.” Smart Insights, 1 March 2017 www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/.
Hansraj KK. Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surg Technol Int. 2014 Nov;25:277-9. PubMed PMID: 25393825.
Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ. Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8.doi: 10.1177/0956797610383437. Epub 2010 Sep 20. PubMed PMID: 20855902.