'Text neck' checked as next big risk
As millions stoop to read the latest news, gossip, emails and cat memes, experts warn the awkward angle of modern life could be a serious health risk.
“Text neck” has been identified as an increasing source of injury, caused by hours of looking down at tiny mobile screens.
The human head weighs about 5.5kg. But, with the neck bent forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase.
At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 12.2kg, at 30 degrees it is 18kgs, 45 degrees brings 22.2kgs onto the upper spine, while a 60 degree tilt leaves the head with an effective weight of about 27.2kgs.
In relative terms – hanging your head at a 60 degree angle is like carrying a superfluous 8-year-old child on your shoulders.
Average smart phone users can easily rack up an hour or two a day at such an angle, and with screen time increasing the risk could be worse for teenagers.
“The problem is really profound in young people,” said researcher Kenneth Hansraj.
Hansraj’s recent study on the mechanics of “text neck” has been published in the National Library of Medicine.
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post.
“Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.
“With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.”
Stretching the neck tissue for such extended period can cause inflammation, muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even change the neck’s natural curve.
In fact, poor posture can cause some less obvious problems as well. Experts say it can reduce lung capacity, and it has also been linked to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease.
“While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over,” the research paper states.
“I love technology. I’m not bashing technology in any way,” Hansraj told reporters in the US.
“My message is: Just be cognisant of where your head is in space. Continue to enjoy your smartphones and continue to enjoy this technology — just make sure your head is up.”
This website is dedicated to raising awareness and helping avoid the growing plague of “text neck”.