Text Neck: Another Health Hazard Caused By Mobile & Tablet Use


image via Marin Spine and Wellness Centerimage via Marin Spine and Wellness Center "I'm not sticking my neck out for you anymore.  And here's why!"

As if living with the uncertainty of whether we will or will not get brain cancer from using our mobiles is not enough, chiropractors are telling us we have another reason to be concerned if we text message or use tablet computers.  The fear is of totally screwing up our spine-neck-head alignment by perpetually bending the neck forward and holding our chins out. Chiropractors have dubbed the position, otherwise known as Forward Head Posture (FHP), text neck.

Unlike the potential that radiation from cell phones might cause cancer, there is no looming doubt about text neck; if you text or use a tablet computer often, you are likely to acquire it.  You will recognize text neck by the pain and stiffness in your neck and your inability to put your head back squarely on your neck and lower your chin. 

Remember when your mother warned you, 'Don't make a face like that or it will stay that way?" Well, text neck is the equivalent of making that face. Keep your head forward and your chin out repeatedly while you read text messages or tablet screens, and they will stay that way.

Forward Head Posture (FHP) or 'text neck': image via Marin Spine and Wellness CenterForward Head Posture (FHP) or 'text neck': image via Marin Spine and Wellness CenterThe head of an adult weighs 10 to 12 pounds.  The way humans are aligned the head is meant to be centered on the neck, the neck acting as a kind of fulcrum to the head.  When we keep the head off-center for periods of time, neck muscles have to overcompensate.  Keep doing that and the body will eventually form that position permanently, and lead to serious health problems, like arthritis, heart and lung difficulties, and even digestive interference.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid text neck.  Chiropractors recommend taking frequent breaks to set your head in the correct position - centered on your neck, facing front, with chin tucked in. In yoga, for example, you are told to imagine that you are being pulled straight up by a string from the center of your head. Personally, I keep that image in mind when I am facing any sort of electronic screen, reading a book, or writing. Also, you can alter the position of the screens, bringing them up a bit closer to your eyes.

Take frequent breaks from your mobile phones and tablet screens. Rotating your head fully around your neck is a good exercise for flexibility as is rotating your shoulders fully around in both directions while your arms stay loose by your sides.

And if you're well along the route to text neck, better see a chiropractor.

sources: Telegraph, Marin Spine and Wellness Center