By Coach Mel
Got "text neck?"
Most of us own smartphones. You've seen it before and, probably, you're doing it right now. Looking down at your phone. Studies show that about 79% of people ages 18-44 own a smartphone and have it on their person approximately 22 hours of the day. Of the time we have our phone physically on us we are said to be using that Smartphone an average of 2-4 hours. That's 2-4 hours just staring down at a screen. Think about what you could do in that time! You could run a marathon... every day! You could read a lot of a book. You could maybe clean your whole house. Nonetheless, it is a part of our lives. Whether for work, education, or social stalking, most of us probably spend more time than we are comfortable admitting bending our necks away from what is right in front of us to look down at a screen.
We might assume that our addictions are only impacting our brains. The reality is becoming that we are doing some heavy damage to our spines. That's right, this thing, this "text neck" is becoming an actual medical problem. How embarrassing is that? People used to have to worry about smallpox, the plague!, measles... all these diseases we've survived and now this - text neck. I'm waiting patiently for the day our hands evolve to look not unlike mittens with only thumbs recognizable as a "finger" with the other four fused together forming a plate on which to rest our devices. I could go on but I, too, fall into this category of people.
The human head. Weighing in at about 12lbs this amazing part of our bodies resting gently on our neck puts an increasing amount of weight on our cervical spine (the neck) as we increase the angle at which we lean forward. For example, if we tilt our head forward just 15 degrees then that 12lbs increases to 27lbs of weight on our cervical spine. If the angle increases up to 60 degrees, that turns into a whopping 60lbs. Need a visual for 60lbs? Team POINT - think about carrying that 45lb bar with some plates on your neck for several hours a day. Everyone else - think about carrying a dog roughly the size of a lab around your neck.
Medical experts are particularly worried about young people who are said to spend 5,000 more hours a year on their phones than older adults. It is becoming a problem that doctors are worried will start to cause degeneration, chronic headaches, upper back pain, spinal problems, pinched nerves, herniated discs and a number of other problems possibly resulting in surgery for the most afflicted. But also it makes us totally unaware of our surroundings.
I was walking toward a man on the sidewalk the other day. He was staring down at his phone coming in hot right toward me. I kept walking toward him in my same path to see if he would notice anything about his surroundings. I promised myself I wouldn't move... just to see. Sure enough, we ran straight into each other. I could go on and on about the topic of phones causing more serious accidents than that but we will leave it at my small experiment.
It is probably impossible to completely avoid your phone in our current world. But there are ways to help. Be more conscious of how you are looking at your phone. Try and have as much of a neutral spine as possible. Keep your phone as much at eye-level as you can. Exercising helps as well allowing your neck to twist and turn and, if done with the proper form, keeps your spine in good alignment. We can't very well get rid of phones, but we should all try and make an effort to cut the unnecessary time on a phone as well as pay closer attention to our posture as we look down.