The average person’s head weighs between 8-12 lbs. As a result when we bend our neck forward our spine is strained to balance our noggin and the extra weight... Imagine more rocks or marbles To put it in perspective, every time you bend your head 15-degrees forward our neck is balancing an extra 27 lbs of rocks or marbles. Thirty degrees and our neck is struggling with 40 lbs, 60-degree angle and we have 60lbs of strain to our neck and spine. This can’t be good. No matter how thick our neck is, it’s not used to carrying around a very large toddler.
Bending your head to text on your phone or tablet can lead a hunched over posture.. according to a recent paper in the Surgical Technology International by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine.
Is Text Neck our New Epidemic?
In a world dominated by handheld media this is becoming a major problem .. it may be bordering on an epidemic. The Cisco Visual Networking index anticipates by the end of 2014 that there will be more mobile connected devices than people on Earth (7.125 billion in 2013).
Not sure who needs more than one phone but I’m just reporting the facts. When texting it is our natural inclination to hunch our shoulders, but the constant strain of this position can lead you to the eventual destruction of our spine. We need these back bones for many reasons (another blog another time)
So How Can we Win the Battle of the Text Neck?
The best way to combat “text” neck ( a term first coined by Dr. Fishman) and the slow decline of our spine is to be aware of what we are doing to it... and perhaps even scare the hell out of ourselves by looking at the picture below :) But if we can catch ourselves in that tell tale awkward position we should immediately re adjust our neck posture and give ourselves a break.... not always easy to do. This stress on our neck can lead to pinched nerves, muscle strain, headaches, aching shoulders and disc herniation.
What is Bad Posture and How Do We Know We Have It?
Researchers and specialists define bad posture as when the head is tilted forward and the shoulders drop forward in a rounded or hunched position. The enVy Pillow nurse inventors often like to say that we should draw an imaginary line from our ears to our shoulders to our hips and this should be a straight line close to parallel to our mattress.
The Dangers of Poor Posture
Scientists in New Zealand have linked bad posture with various mental health problems including depression, anger issues and decreased libido... (not sure if they mean the libido of those with the bad neck or those who get to see us all bent out of shape like Quasimodo). Other side effects of slouching include back pain, weight gain, constipation, heartburn, migraines, and respiratory conditions. The startling information surrounding the “text” neck just adds to our now “common knowledge” about the dangers of leaning over our computers which can lead to arthritis, neck pain and lower back pain. Note: I just caught myself and readjusted... oh ..and took a break.
NOW, some would argue that looking down at our phone might have bigger hazards than spinal disease.
"People are walking around now while texting, falling into water fountains and lakes and walking into traffic—that's a real danger," says Dr. Ian Dorward a Neurosurgeon at Washington State.
Best Advice? Cover All the Angles
If all else fails... at the very least encourage proper neck and back alignment while you sleep. Surely, 6-8 hours of proper neck and back posture and ergonomics has GOT to count for something! Be aware if you are using a pillow that just continues to encourage your forward head leaning. When lying in bed try to have your “bed posture” similar to proper “standing posture”.
The enVy Pillow is a patented therapeutic pillow that is not only recommended by chiropractors, physiotherapists and other spinal specialists BUT is sleeping with with them as well.
Now that is a endorsement you can sleep on!
As for walking into traffic with your head down... your Mama taught you better than that!