Understanding Text Neck, a World-Wide Health Concern
Mobile devices and tablets are a way of life. Gen Z doesn’t know a world without these handheld gadgets, and even most Boomers wouldn’t want to imagine life without them. They’ve literally put the world in the palm of our hands.
With any dramatic change in the way life is lived comes new physical challenges. “Text Neck” is a real syndrome. Though the posture of staring down and staying hunched for a period of time isn’t new—people have been gazing into books, drawing, sewing, crafting, etc. for centuries—our current obsession with our mobile devices has multiplied the amount of time we spend hunched over.
It’s not uncommon. Take a second to look up from your own phone in any setting, from sitting at your doctor's office to waiting in an airline terminal, and all you’ll see are eyes staring down into lit devices. Some are only slightly angled downward while others are bent at almost 90 degrees.
If we look at the facts, an average human head weighs roughly 10 lbs in the correct vertical position, and the weight force multiples as the head lowers. Thirty degrees equals almost 40 lbs, and 60 degrees is around 60 lbs of pressure. That’s a lot of exertion on the neck, shoulders, and spine, especially for prolonged periods of time such as air travel, where the body is subjected to cramped spaces and confined to a stationary position for long stretches of time.
Text Neck is no joke. From pain to burning muscles, the symptoms can progress over time if we aren’t careful to stretch and give ourselves breaks from our devices. Spinal misalignment, inflammation of the nerves, arthritic pain, and a change to the curve of the cervical spine (neck) are only a few issues that could arise. We’ve all seen an elderly person with kyphosis (“hunchback” that is age-related affecting between 20-40% of older adults), but what is showing up more in our modern days are teenagers and young adults with bone growths at the base of their spine (exostosis) due to heavy use of mobile devices.
What Can be Done?
The number one thing that you can do to alleviate pain and reverse Text Neck is to check the alignment of your phone or device. Holding your device too low is what leads to Text Neck. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead, in the natural position where your head sits on your spine. Bring your device up so that you’re looking forward and straighten your shoulders out.
Relax and stretch. How about putting down the device and giving your eyes, and body a break. Once you start to make the change to hold your phone in the proper position so that you’re looking forward, you’ll run into arm, elbow, and should pain from holding it in the raised position. Set the device down and stretch.
VuWing works to alleviate these pains and potential long-term negative effects. Going hands-free during air travel allows your arms to relax in their natural position, and having the device in front of you, at the proper height so that you’re neck is straight in its natural position will allow you to catch up on your favorite movies, TV shows or personal choice of entertainment while keeping your body comfortable and device safe and secure.
Give yourself a break; your neck, spine, shoulders, elbows, and eyes all need a break from your device. Sometimes it's OK to miss a text in favor of your health and wellbeing. Keep your body in optimal condition so it can go on to text, message, email, game and be entertained for a long time to come.