“Text Neck” Related to Looking Down and Texting on Devices

Text Neck
Text Neck
Image: WebMD.com

A fellowship-trained spinal surgeon, Dr. Paul W. McDonough assists patients throughout the Abilene, Texas, community. A strong believer in preventive health care, Paul McDonough, MD, engages closely with patients in emphasizing ways of maintaining proper spine and back health.

Within a highly connected world, people are increasingly tied to their devices wherever they go, and they can experience previously rare posture issues that are now linked to habitual texting or otherwise looking at a smartphone. “Text neck” can occur in a number of ways, and it is commonly caused by dropping your head in a forward direction to focus on a small screen.

When in a proper upright position, the neck muscles can comfortably support a weight of up to 12 pounds. Each inch that your head drops results in a doubling of the load on the neck muscles. When looking down at your smartphone, with your chin close to your chest, this load increases to the equivalent of about 60 pounds. This type of posture is responsible for muscle and back strain and also impairs the ability of the lungs to expand, which makes the heart work harder to supply needed oxygen throughout the body. “Text neck” can be avoided by holding the phone higher, at or near eye level, and limiting the time spent on mobile devices.

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