Is 'Text Neck' Wrecking Bone Health and Becoming a New American Epidemic?
Is the 'text neck' problem becoming the new spine-wrecking epidemic in the U.S.?
“Text Neck Overuse Syndrome” is a new burden currently affecting society today.
The development of technology has seen more people acquiring mobile phones that they use in texting among other forms of communication. When it gets out of hand, it makes an impact.
According to research, many people stare at their phones for longer periods in a day than ever before. This poor posture affects most young people regardless of health or location. The same researchers argue that it can cause the user to have an early wear and tear of the spine, some degeneration, or worse yet, even surgery.
How 'Text Neck' Affects Your Whole Body
The average head of a human person weighs about 12 pounds. However, if you acquire an incorrect posture such as leaning forward too often and looking downwards, this weight increases significantly.
For instance, if your neck is positioned at a 15-degree angle, your head’s weight rises to 27 pounds. The greater the angle degree, the more your head weighs. This is what happens whenever you are using your smartphone for texting purposes. If it becomes a habit, you run the risk of developing health (see: spinal) issues.
So, Is 'Text Neck' Really An Epidemic?
According to an expert at a spine surgery and rehabilitation center, 'text neck' is an epidemic or at least a very common habit. He goes on to explain this by giving an example of how just 60 pounds can be heavy and disastrous.
He says that you can simply imagine carrying an eight-year-old around your neck for several hours. That is exactly what people do when they spend over two hours per day reading text messages, email, and visiting social media sites.
When you look at the wider picture that comprises between 700 to 1400 hours per year that people spend staring at their phones, the impact is clear. This activity is definitely stressing the body, and specifically so, the spine.
Who Does 'Text Neck' Affect The Most?
While it is a trend for most people to use their phones for texting, emailing, or being on social media, research shows that high schoolers are in fact, the most vulnerable.
This group alone spend over 5,000 hours on their phones, collectively, each day, and therefore run the greatest risk of incurring spinal problems in the future.
Researchers say that if nothing is done, soon we will start seeing young people needing early spinal care. They urge parents to take more care, and give more guidance to their children to avoid this possibility from happening. Reduce the amount of time spent texting every day, and when texting, be mindful of posture.
What Are The Harmful Effects Of 'Text Neck'?
As mentioned above, 'text neck' causes only harm for the body — never any good.
Here are just two of the health problems that come with this condition, including:
● It Puts Unnecessary Pressure On The Spine
The spine is an important part of your body that should remain stress free at all times, at whatever cost. When using your phone for texting purposes, every inch you lean forward, the pressure doubles on your spine.
This is like tilting one of your fingers backwards then holding it there for over an hour. The prolonged stretching of the tissue for long periods (or even short periods that are repeated) can cause soreness and eventual inflammation,
among other issues.
If you continue to stretch your spine in this fashion, muscle pain, and even pinched nerves can occur. In some cases, you can lose the natural curve of your neck due to Text Neck Overuse Syndrome.
Researchers can confirm that over the last six years, there have been more cases of head, neck, and back pains induced by the use of technology and
the subsequent problems it led to.
● It Can Lead To Health Issues Or Diseases
Apart from causing spinal and neck problems, 'text neck' can cause other health issues as well, such as heart and lung diseases.
Medical experts say that tilting your neck lowers the lung capacity by more than 30%. Additionally, 'text neck' can cause cognitive issues, such as headaches, neurological effects, or even depression.
How Can Smartphone Users Avoid 'Text Neck'?
While we agree it is almost impossible to do away with technology or technological devices that can cause this condition, it does not mean that we cannot reduce the factors that influence the problem, or the number of people suffering from it.
Here are some ways you can prevent any issue of dealing with 'text neck':
● Try to look at your phone from the neutral position of your spine. The better your posture is kept, the more likely you will avoid 'text neck'-type issues in the future.
● Avoid spending too much time on your phone in the first place. Studies have repeatedly shown that we spend too much time using our phones. Scale back.
● Look down at the device with your eyes without the need to bend your neck. It's a habit everyone does, but you have to break the cycle. Use your eyes, not your neck.
● Take part in regular exercising and relaxation activities that will help you maintain excellent posture with a healthy core. Bringing balance to your body is a good start.
The Bottom Line
While 'text neck' is certainly a serious issue plaguing technology lovers of all races and nations, it's not one that we can't defend against. Reduce the number of hours (even down to minutes) that you spend on your devices, and when you are using them, remain aware of your posture and time spending engaging in the activity.
'Text Neck' is only as much of a problem as we allow it to be when we let our habits grow out of control. Technology is a wonderful thing, but no enjoyable daily ritual is worth the cost of our health. Be aware of texting habits. Your spine will thank you.