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Have You Got Text Neck?

Have You Got Text Neck?
Have You Got Text Neck?

What Is Text Neck?

Text neck is an overuse condition of the head, neck and shoulders resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking downward at any hand held mobile device for extended periods (this device could include your mobile phone, laptop, computer or video game unit). Adopting this position for extended periods can lead to the onset of headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and arm pain…
The average weight of a human head is about five and a half kilograms and this weight is amplified on the neck when the head is bent forward such as the posture adopted when texting. In this text neck position, the weight exerted on the cervical spine increases so much so that:

  • At just a 15 deg angle the weight of the head is considered to be about 12kg of strain on the neck.
  • Where as at a 40 degree angle it is 22kg.
  • And at a 60 degree angle the weight of the head on the neck is a whopping 27 kilograms.

Adopting a 60 degree angle of the head on the neck is pretty common when browsing or texting on your phone. Just look at everyone on the bus or train on the way to or from work each day and you will see that the majority of passengers are far closer to a 60 degree angle than a 15 degree posture when skimming Facebook.

On average working age adults are using their smart phones for between two to four hours a day and have their phone on them for around 22 hours a day. So that is a couple of hours a day at least that you are putting your head in a posture that could be considered the equivalent of carrying a school age kid on your shoulders. Now it doesn’t take a physiotherapy degree to realise that doing this for a couple of hours a day would pretty quickly create a neck problem.

What Can You Do To Prevent Text Neck?

Well you could try just making a phone call (ideally a hands free one) rather than writing that text message or sending an email. As well as this you could also consider:

  • Using a voice-texting assistant.
  • Looking down at the device you are working on with your eyes instead of bending your neck forward.
  • Using predictive text functions to accelerate texting speed so you need to spend relatively less time in non desirable positions to send your messages.
  • Hold your phone up at eye level more often so there is less need to bend your head down into those higher stress positions. Bring your phone to your eyes not your eyes to your phone!
  • Take regular breaks from your desk and devices, and during these breaks considering performing some basic neck and upper back stretches.
  • See your local physiotherapist if pain persists or worsens despite making the above suggested changes.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Have You Got Text Neck? should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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