Gone are the days when text messages were rationed like rum on a pirate ship. The moment the telecommunications industry lifted the flood gates on unlimited texts and “blessed” their customers with a library of emoticons for one flat fee, medical professionals started dealing with a condition referred to a “Text Neck” or Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS). As silly as it sounds, text neck and AHS are a growing and serious problem within an extremely vulnerable population; Kids. Children are developing their spinal structure for the rest of their lives during the first 20 years or so and if they are laying a poor Foundation (see what I did there?) what do you think that will mean for them down the road? I’m not going to scare you with the particulars but let’s just say for every inch you move your head forward from a neutral position ( ie ears over shoulders) you increase the weight of your head as it sits on your neck by 10 POUNDS! Now the human head clocks in around 10-12 pounds anyway but add even an inch of bad posture and you just doubled the strain you are placing on your neck muscles, ligaments and spinal cord. No, that wasn't a typo, I said spinal cord.
By positioning your head forward ANY distance, you create a tension on your spinal cord that creates stretching on your central nervous system. In short, when you sit there and text for an hour with bad posture, that is an hour that you are physically straining the most important organ in the human body. Picture this, I ask you to hold a bowling ball close to your chest for 5 minutes. Most of us could do that with little to no problem. Now I ask you to hold the ball with your arms straight out in front of you. I’d put a fresh $50 bill down if you could hold it there without getting tired, weak, bending your elbows (compensations) or giving up altogether. Do you see what I’m getting at? We wouldn’t hold a bowling ball like that so why are we holding our brains way out in front of our bodies? Good answer, we shouldn’t. Oh and just in case you’re thinking to yourself “Dr Zach, I only text for like 5 minutes a month”, researchers from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) have determined that the average smartphone user spends 2-4 hours a day on their phone ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25393825 ). So while they may be nerds over there at the NLM (probably) it doesn’t mean that their wrong about your actual usage.
For more info on the proper body positioning associated with phone usage. Check out Dr Kelly Starrett’s video on this very subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uNmXW5km64be forewarned, he is an intelligent, funny and occasionally crude man.
If you're still in denial about your usage, get the Moment app and put that rumor to bed. (1)
All the best health,
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team
Oh and if you comment on this article with your head down, shoulders rolled forward and mid-back rounded, I’ll delete them based on principle and irony.