Texting can create so much neck stress, it’s like carrying four adult-size bowling balls on the cervical spine, reveals a report published in Surgical Technology International. Written by a spine surgeon, the study shows that tilting your head forward makes the head seem much heavier than it really is. This can have lasting degenerative effects on the neck.
Neck Stress from Texting
Adults spend on average 700 to 1,400 hours per year reading and texting on their smartphone. This jumps up to about 5,000 hours for an average teenager. All of this looking down at the smartphone results in hours upon hours of bad posture with lots of undue neck stress.
How much stress? Kenneth Hansraj, MD and Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, asked just that. Through a series of calculations, he found that the typical texting position can increase the weight of the head by 5 times.
The average head weighs about 10-12 pounds in the neutral position. But when we text, we do not hold our head in neutral. Typically, when we’re texting, the head starts tilting forward, and the shoulders slump forward, as well.
A 15-degree tilt of the head creates 27 pounds of stress on the neck. Increase this to 30 degrees, and this jumps up to 40 pounds.
When the head is tilted down 60 degrees, it creates 60 pounds of stress on the spine. This is the equivalent to an average 8-year-old! Or four adult-size bowling balls.
The implications of this type of posture can be significant. Dr. Hansraj writes:
Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.
Some of this “wear and tear” can manifest itself into a common condition called text neck. The symptoms include severe and constant pain in the neck, upper back and shoulders. Here’s Dr. Hansraj’s advice:
… individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.
Other Dangers of Smartphone Overuse
There is a growing body of scientists and researchers who believe that electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation from cellphones and other wireless devices can be quite hazardous to human health. The evidence for this is so significant that the World Health Organization categorizes cellphones a Group 2B “possible carcinogen.”
Additionally, many independent studies have discovered that a possible link between cellphone overuse and cancer exist. On the other hand, the wireless industry has funded its own research. These companies claim that cellphone technology is safe for everyone to use, even children. Here’s Dr. Mercola’s take on this:
If you have been told EMFs are safe and not a danger to humans, you may want to consider: – The telecommunication industry has manipulated federal regulatory agencies, public health authorities and professionals through powerful and sophisticated lobbying efforts leaving consumers confused and unaware of the health risks associated with EMFs – Any negative health effects from EMFs, similar to smoking, may not be immediately noticeable, but will likely develop gradually over time. Cell phones indeed are the cigarette public health threat of the 21st century.
The debate about EMF and cellphone safety will likely continue. If you do believe that a threat exists, here are a few simple steps you can take to limit your exposure to smartphone EMFs.
Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body (unless it is set to airplane mode).
Do not sleep with your smartphone next to you or under your pillow.
Always set the smartphone in airplane mode when it’s in your bedroom at night.
You may want to attach a device to your smartphone that is designed to reduce the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation, such as the Aires Shield.
When using your cellphone, hold it at least 3 feet away from you.
Use the speaker phone feature instead of holding the phone to your ear, unless it is absolutely necessary.
In today’s world, it is nearly impossible to avoid using technology, especially a smartphone. That’s why it is vitally important to establish proper usage habits, such as taking frequent breaks, maintaining good posture, and using proper precautions such an EMF protection device.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.