Is your smartphone a pain in the neck? Studies say yes.
If there’s one thing that can be said for Americans, it’s that we love our technology. Most people probably need to have their cell phone or tablet surgically removed from their hands. Technology has paved the way for many successes, but it’s also caused a few health problems.
Studies show that the progressive use of smart phones and tablets has led to an increase in medical problems – the main culprit being “text neck.” Text neck is caused by leaning the head forward over a cell phone, tablet, or gaming system for an extended time.
The average person’s head weighs about 10 pounds, but when you hunch over your phone or tablet, your neck and shoulders are forced to support about 30 pounds of weight. The added strain on your neck and shoulders creates muscle tension, which is known to cause headaches.
Using your body as a bridge to your cell phone also creates an opportunity for an injured spine. Text neck also can lead to disc herniation, muscle strain or pinched nerves. Bending your body into a “C” shape encourages a slew of health problems, such as decreased lung capacity. When you hunch your body over to text, your lung capacity decreases by as much as 30 percent. The lack of oxygen can cause metabolic problems as well.
Although this information is useful, it’s certainly not enough incentive to forgo using your favorite 21st century devices, right? We didn’t think so. Here are some tips and tricks to keep you texting and using your tablet without the neck pain:
Fix your feet. When you text or read on your tablet, make sure your feet are flat on the floor. This will help with the overall posture of your body and decrease the risk for muscle tension and other health problems.
Angle your arms. Arm placement is important when texting or using your tablet. Keep your arms in front of you. This will help make sure you aren’t looking down at your phone. If you find that your arms are tired, try propping them up on a table or pillow.
Set your shoulders. Don’t hunch or roll your shoulders forward while using your tablet or texting. Keep your shoulders back. The improved posture will help eliminate tension in the head, neck and shoulders. If you feel your shoulders tensing, roll your shoulders in a circular motion to help relieve the tension.
Heed your head. As you use your devices, remember to watch your head’s position. Don’t drop your head forward; instead, tuck your chin. This will allow your neck to support the weight of your head. Also, remember that your ears should remain positioned directly above your shoulders.
Break it up. It’s unwise to spend hours at a time hunched over your devices. Make sure to incorporate breaks into your texting and tablet time. Try to get up and walk around without your device every 15 minutes. All your apps and messages will be waiting for you when you get back.