A modern piece of technology that’s now considered essential to own over the past two decades has been found the culprit of a serious spine ailment: the cellphone. More specifically, the posture we assume when sending text messages. “Text neck” is a fairly new term coined to describe the neck pain and soreness that’s caused by excessive mobile phone usage, which involves bending the neck down to focus on the screen.
There’s even a concern that children, who are growing up with pervasive new technology that directly affects their daily lives, will experience permanent spinal damage later in life from constant mobile device usage. The spine is not fully developed until about the age of 18, so any repeated straining of the neck before this time is likely to negatively impact development.
As the technology advances, there are more and more tasks that are added to the list of smartphone capabilities, making it an item we just can’t live without. Although this may seem to be a problem exclusive to Millennials, the integration of cellphone usage in both professional and household environments has made ‘text neck’ an increasingly common ailment for Americans in a collective sense.
The most recent Pew Research Center report on mobile technology states that 90% of U.S. adults own a cellphone; surprisingly, this includes 74% of adults over age 65. However, a recent Deloitte study also found that the younger you are, the more frequently you’ll probably check your phone. In fact, those in the 18-24 age range look at their phones about 74 times per day! Nielsen has also reported that as of 2014, the average American spent over 34 hours a month using their mobile phones.
Good posture is really the key, here. Instead of holding your phone in your lap so you have to crane your neck to see the screen, try to get in the habit of holding it at eye level to avoid uncomfortable neck movement. Always keep your head up and shoulders back.
Take frequent breaks from using your cellphone and laptop: any easy way to remind yourself is to set an alarm every half hour, and walk around for even just a few minutes before resuming your work.
Exercise may also help: having strong core muscles actually helps support the entire body, including the neck! Add core body strength exercises to your daily fitness routine, and always stretch properly beforehand.