Technology is a marvelous thing. In our modern world, anyone one of us can access any information we want, when we want. Those of you old enough to remember a little thing called libraries, may recall a very different way of retrieving information.
However, modern technology also produces modern ailments. And in this case, that technology is turning an entire generation into hunchbacks.
Our obsession and reliance on technology is quickly turning into addiction. In fact, this addiction recently gave birth to a new word – nomophobia. Nomophobia is the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason, such as the absence of a signal or running out of minutes or battery power.
Yes, this is an actual thing. However, the fear of not being able to use your phone, is nothing compared to the health risks associated with constantly using your phone. The result of which can turn a 20-year-old spine into one that appears 10 to 20 years older.
What is Text Neck?
Text neck is the result of your head resting at an unnatural angle for a prolonged period of time, such as when we use computers, tablets, video games, and most prominently – cell phones.
Thank goodness we’re not always on our phones, otherwise this could turn into an epidemic. (Pause to get the sarcasm.)
That’s exactly why this IS such a problem. And according to a 2016 study, the average age of children who receive their first cell phone is 10.3 years old. At that age, problems are compounded as children’s bodies are still developing.
Your head is meant to rest directly over your shoulders, like a golf ball resting on a tee. When your head is tilted down, this contributes to a destructive imbalance to your cervical curve – which is the natural curvature of your neck.
For every inch of Forward Head Posture, also known as FHP, your spine experiences an additional 10 pounds of pressure. So when you lean forward 60 degrees over your cell phone, which is average, the stress on your neck increases by 60 pounds.
At this angle, your back and neck muscles stay contracted, which compresses nerves, and causes problems from headaches and pain to anxiety and depression. And that’s just the beginning.
Health Risks Associated with Text Neck
In the short term, FHP can cause chronic pain, numbness in arms and hands, pinched nerves, improper breathing, and deteriorating mood and emotional stability.
In the long-term, FHP can contribute to Fibromyalgia, early arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ, asthma, heart disease, and eventually the degeneration of your cervical spine, and even organ failure.
Neurosurgeons refer to the curve of your cervical spine as the Arc of Life. Your spinal bones help protect your brain stem and spinal nerves, which affect every single function and organ in your body. Which is how texting can lead to heart disease.
When it comes to your body, the important thing to remember is that it’s all connected, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Anytime you’re hunched over or slouching, such as when you text, this also compresses your abdominal organs, which negatively affects your digestion and bowel function. Having digestive issues recently? Try putting your phone down for a couple weeks.
According to University of California’s Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rene Caillet, FHP pulls the spine out of alignment, which can result in a loss of 30% vital lung capacity. But it’s the negative impact on brain health that may be most troublesome.
Your posture affects your mood and brain function, as in feelings of stress, memory, and even behavior. And there’s an inverse relationship as well. One in which depression contributes to worsening posture. Which, of course, creates more emotional imbalance.
A recent study conducted in Germany supports the premise that posture can negatively affect memory, and even contributes to more negative thinking. In the study, researchers discovered that a sitting, slouched position resulted in the recall of mostly negative words, while those with good sitting posture showed no bias in word recall.
Another study, conducted in 2015, produced even more shocking results. The upright participants in the study demonstrated better self-esteem, improved mood, and less fear. While those participants instructed to slump over experienced an increase in negative emotions, sadness, and feelings of stress.
Solutions and Treatment for Text Neck
Learning better habits, when it comes to posture, is the first step. And it’s a step that may even reverse mild misalignments. However, if you’ve had your head in your cell phone for much of the last decade, you may require a bit of chiropractic help.
Your goal is to correct FHP, and decrease your cervical curve. And this can be done in a number of ways. If your texting habits have already caused a subluxation – spinal misalignment – adjustments to correct the locked-up segments of your spine are likely necessary.
However, treatment can also include myofascial release– a gentle, sustained pressure to the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Gentle traction is another treatment option, as are posture correction exercises.
If you’re interested in a type of exercise specifically designed to alleviate the modern problems associated with slouching and slumping, give Foundation Training a try. Check out the TED Talk below by Dr. Eric Goodman for more information.
If you suspect that text neck has negatively impacted your health, the first step is to seek expert advice from someone who knows a thing or two about spinal health, like your friendly neighborhood chiropractor. Check out our New Patient Special below.
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