Smartphone use is now more prominent than ever in our daily lives, especially amongst teens and young adults. According to a recent report, the average adult spent 3.5 hours on handheld devices (smartphones, tablets) daily. What’s worse, that trend is expected to increase even more in the next few years.
As you might have guessed, spending so much time on our phones puts excessive stress on our necks, as we tend to tilt our head forward and down to look at our device. A 2015 study lays out the degree to which this happens: when our head is directly on top of the shoulders, it puts 10 to 12 lbs on the neck, but when we tilt our heads down just 15 degrees, it increases to 27 lbs, and can even reach 60 lbs when tilting down 60 degrees.
Spending hours upon hours in that position applies constant strain and can lead to various neck and shoulder pains now commonly referred to as “text neck”. What’s even more alarming is that many of those conditions, if untreated, can become chronic and follow you for some time.
Luckily, there are things you can do to alleviate, or even proactively prevent developing “text neck” pains. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Rather than tilting your head forward, try bringing your phone higher up, into your direct line of sight, with your hands. If watching videos on your phone or tablet, rest it on a stand or prop it up against something more in view.
- Try to be aware of, and avoid, the “forward-head” posture. Spending so much time on phones or computers, we tend to adopt a posture where our head is kept more forward than it should. Ideally, our head should rest in line with our body, firmly over our shoulders.
- During extended periods of smartphone use, take regular breaks and move your head around. This gives a break to your neck and loosens up your spine and muscles. Look left, right, look up, look down. Your neck will thank you by the end of the day.
- As our neck and shoulders are strongly interconnected, it’s also a good idea to stretch out your shoulders regularly. We tend to slump forward, so stretch the opposite way – bringing your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold it for a few seconds and repeat 5 times. It’s a good idea to repeat this a few times throughout the day.
Hopefully you’re reading this in time to prevent any neck and shoulder pain. If “text neck” is something you’ve been struggling with, nip it in the bud and see a physiotherapist now to help prevent developing any chronic condition.