The Danger of Text Neck, Or Is It?

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Today’s article comes from Dr. Michael Siegenthaler, who has over 24 years of experience as a Physical Therapist. Michael graduated from the Langston University School of Physical Therapy in 1993, and earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2005. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist. Michael is certified in Functional Movement Systems, Selective Functional Movement Assessments, Y-Balance, level 3 Functional Dry Needling, and Applied Prevention and Health Promotion. His work with patients greatly impacts patients overall performance, injury prevention, and return to activity. To learn more about Dr. Siegenthaler, please visit his website at Impact Rehab & Wellness.


Text Neck

How much time do you think you spend every day staring at your cell phone? On average, we spend 2 to 4 hours every single day looking at our cell phones, emailing, texting, and checking social media sites. High schoolers may even be spending 13 hours per day on their phones.

Your head weighs 10-12 lbs. It may not feel that way, but it still takes a toll on your body. Every inch your head is bent forward increases the weight and strain put on your cervical spine, muscles, and nerves. For example, looking down at a 15 degree angle puts 27 lbs of weight on your neck. At 60 degrees, you’ve now increased the strain to 60 lbs. This is like letting an eight year old sit on your neck for several hours a day. No wonder our neck feels tired and sore at the end of the day!

Over time, this poor posture can lead to early wear and tear on the spine, resulting in the need for surgery. Your neck is not the only area at risk, however. The ripple effect of stress and strain can often affect your shoulders, low back, and hips.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Simply changing your posture while looking at your phone can make a huge difference in the likelihood of experiencing neck pain, headaches, and more.

We have two simple tips to restore your natural posture and stop/prevent neck pain:

Tip 1: Move your phone up to meet your eyes.

Instead of bending your neck to look down at your phone, bring your phone up to your eye level. This will help you to maintain an aligned, tall posture.

 

Tip 2: Reverse your posture throughout the day using these 3 easy steps.

  1. Sit or stand up tall, with your shoulders back. Now gently tuck your chin back. Try holding it for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise throughout the day.
  2. Get up and move every hour!
  3. Stand in a doorway with your hands on the door frame and your elbows slightly below your shoulders. Next, push your chest forward and hold for 15-20 seconds. Do this four times. This simple stretch will open up the chest and shoulder muscles that tighten from slouching. If this position is uncomfortable, you can modify the stretch by lowering your hands.

Most importantly,  be aware of how you’re holding your head throughout the day and stand tall!


Hensraj, Ken. “Assessment of Stresses About The Cervical Spine: Caused by Posture and Position of the Head.” New York Spine Surgery, 2014, realspinesurgery.com/text-neck/.

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Editor in Chief, PhysicalTherapist.com

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