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 (such devices could include a mobile phone, laptop, computer or video gaming unit). Adopting this head forward and downward position for extended periods can lead to the onset of a number of potential symptoms including headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and arm pain…
Your Head Is Heavy
The average weight of an adult human head is about 5 and a half kilograms, this weight is further amplified on the neck when the head is bent forward and downwards 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 only a 15 degree angle the weight of the head is considered to be the equivalent of about 12kg of strain on the neck.
- Where as at a 40 degree angle it increases to 22kg.
- And at a 60 degree angle the weight of the head on the neck blows out to be the equivalent of a whopping 27 kilograms.
Adopting a 60 degree angle of the head on the neck is not uncommon when browsing, or texting on the phone. All you need to do is take a look at everyone on the bus, or train on the way to, or from work each day and you will quickly see that the majority of passengers are far closer to a 60 degree angle than a less stressful 15 degree posture when skimming Facebook, Instagram or tiktok.
Are You On Your Phone Too Long Each Day?
On average it is estimated that adults of working age are using their smart phones for between 2-4 hours a day, more alarmingly we apparently have our phones on (or around) us 22 hours a day. This means that for most adults at least, there are a couple of hours a day that you are putting your head in a posture that could be considered to be the equivalent of carrying a school age kid around on your shoulders. It doesn’t take a physiotherapy degree to realise that doing this for a couple of hours a day could fairly rapidly create neck issues.
What Can You Do To Prevent Text Neck?
Well you could try just leaving your phone at home one or two days a week, not likely… Try 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. Make these breaks positive, adopting neutral postures of the head and neck by walking around with your head in its anatomical position, stop and smell the roses, taking in the world around you, you miss a lot when your head is stuck in your phone. Even consider taking breaks where you completely unload your neck by lying supine on the floor and lengthening your neck and spine with some cervical retraction stretching exercises.
- See your local physiotherapist if pain persists or worsens despite making the above suggested changes, or you need any further clarification on how to manage your text neck.
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.