By: Nick McNaught
I have noticed that there is an epidemic spreading rampantly around. I’ve seen it in the subways, on the streets, in cars, and in bars – it’s everywhere! But where this 21st century affliction can always be found, is around a cellular device. It’s called “Text Neck.”
Text Neck is that forward, and even downward slant of one’s neck that results from excessive, and repeated amounts of looking down at a cell phone (or Ipad, or other small device). Although aesthetically this poses an issue, from a health perspective, it can also become a problem.
We use our cell phones for everything now. Pretty much all our communication, and now entertainment, games, and Apps are done through mobile devices. This advancement in technology has provided endless, portable opportunity to alter the posture created by tens of thousands of years of our biology.
Our head should be suspended directly over our spine, keeping the weight over our body’s center of gravity. Studies have shown that the vast majority (>90%) of people, when texting, adopt a forward-and-down head position of 10 degrees or more past neutral alignment. This is referred to as Forward Head Posture (FHP).
There are several health problems that this presents. Your head effectively becomes about 10lbs heavier with every inch of forward alignment. This shift, which could add up to about 30lbs, causes tension and strain in the neck and upper back, through the constant contraction and lack of blood flow. The spinal column will slowly be pulled out of alignment, and this will present short-term pain as well as long-term issues and potentially permanent postural change.
So, how can we combat this epidemic? Well, for starters, put the phone down when driving, be okay without needing the constant distraction, and try engaging in more human interactions day to day! Understandably, cell phones are now integral in our day-to-day lives, so you can and should plan to correct this issue in a few different ways:
Throughout the day while using the device, be aware of your neck posture. Notice when you start to crane forward and gently correct, not by looking up, but rather by moving your chin directly back along a horizontal line, towards the back of your throat.
Straighten up periodically and relax your back and neck muscles, rolling your shoulders back to a neutral position, and creating a gentle arch in your lower back. Repetition is key when it comes to postural realignment, so be patient and consistent.
A great exercise that can be done at home, that will improve the hunch taking hold of modern day society’s neck and spine, is the 2-Point Bridge.
2-Point Bridge: Crouch on a mat (or carpet) on hands and knees. Keep your back and hips straight, and your neck in a neutral position looking straight down. Slowly raise your left hand, and right leg straight out, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with your right hand, and left leg.
The most effective thing for ‘Text Neck’, is awareness. Be conscious of your posture and make little adjustments! Implementing small, consistent corrections will save you many issues and great pain in the future. Besides that, you do not want to be that person in all the photos that looks like their head was photo-shopped forward. Look up more and take in life through your own eyes, its beautiful!
Nick McNaught is one of the top health and wellness figures in Toronto, and a prominent personality among the fitness industry. Nick combines his passions, helping others and health, with successful careers as an elite trainer and owner of www.fuelfoods.com. He walks the walk, as a former North American Pro fitness model champion. Nick has made several appearances on Etalk, CTV, and been featured in more than 10 magazines and newspapers.