Texting – it’s a pain in the neck!

Chances are pretty good that you’re reading this on your phone right now or you will be using your phone at some point today. I am just as guilty, as my phone is sitting right next to me while I write this. But by doing this, could you be putting yourself at risk of ‘text neck’?

‘Text neck’ is spine condition that develops from the posture of bending forward to look at a mobile phone like the gentleman is doing in the photo below.

Common texting position (Image via Flickr)

 Is ‘text-neck’ serious?

Well, this is up for debate. Articles in The Guardian and Washington Post claim ‘text-neck’ is becoming an ‘epidemic’ that could cause numbness and head, neck, and arm pain, which if aren’t corrected, could lead to permanent damage.

This is based on research done by a New York back surgeon, who claims that when we bend over to text, we are exerting excess force on our head and neck. An average human head weighs about 4.5-5.4 kilos when it is upright, but as this weight is tilted forward, the gravitational pull on it increases. So at a 60 degree angle (a full bend forward) the head effectively weighs 27 kilos. That’s the weight of an average 8-year-old child!

However, another article counters this by stating that bending one’s head forward is not ideal, but that our necks are intended to perform this motion. The texting posture mirrors that of reading a book and holding a baby. He also points out that the research is based on a computer model so it is not entirely accurate.

‘Text-neck’ solutions and other technological ailments

Solutions suggested to combat ‘text-neck’ include investing in Google glass, looking down at your device with your eyes without bending your neck, and performing specific exercises.

‘Text-neck’ is not the only potential technological danger, however. Texting has also been associated with other ailments like ‘blackberry thumb’ and ‘iPad hand’. But perhaps more obvious and concerning is the dangers of smartphone use whilst walking or driving, which people die from every year. And don’t even get me started on selfies – Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to selfie related injuries and deaths.

Maybe technology is the problem?!

Personally, I think the conversation needs to move away from ‘how to adapt to technology’ to addressing the real issue – why are we even on our phones and devices so much in the first place? Are smartphones like a drug addiction? Will talking face-to-face one day become obsolete like in the movie Wall-e?

Sure, that familiar buzz can be hard to ignore, but there is so much more to see in front of you than there is on a phone screen.

So the next time you’re sitting on your phone on the train or walking down the street, consider putting it down, straightening up your back, and taking in the people and sites around you instead.

2 Responses to “Texting – it’s a pain in the neck!”

  1. Nastasia Bartlett says:

    Definitely agree that our poor posture is doing us loads of harm. Would be interesting to see if someone will do/is doing a prospective study (like what was done to debunk cell phone radiation = cancer myth) http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d6387.short

  2. Raveena Grace says:

    I really enjoyed reading this and it was a very interesting topic that had me engaged from the very start. I heard of the phrase ‘text neck’ but didn’t realise it could potentially cause permanent damage. I liked the suggested solutions at the end as well.