Text Neck: Is Your Phone Hurting You?

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How much time do you think you spend every day staring at your cell phone? On average, we spend 2 to 4 hours every single day looking at our cell phones, emailing, texting, and checking social media sites. High school students may even be spending 13 hours per day on their phones!

The Facts

Your head weighs 10-12 lbs. It may not feel that way, but it still takes a toll on your body. Every inch your head is bent forward increases the weight and strain put on your cervical spine, muscles, and nerves. For example, looking down at a 15 degree angle puts 27 lbs of weight on your neck. At 60 degrees, you’ve now increased the strain to 60 lbs. This is like letting an eight year old sit on your neck for several hours a day. No wonder our neck feels tired and sore at the end of the day!

An image of five skeletons demonstrating how much strain is put on the neck depending on the degree of bend. Text Neck occurs from bending your head too far for too long.

Over time, this poor posture can lead to early wear and tear on the spine, resulting in the need for surgery. Your neck is not the only area at risk. The ripple effect of stress and strain can often affect your shoulders, low back, and hips.

What You Can Do

Simply changing your posture while looking at your phone can make a huge difference in the likelihood of experiencing neck pain, headaches, and more.

We have two simple tips to restore your natural posture and stop/prevent neck pain:

Shows the incorrect way to hold a device and the correct way to hold a device. The incorrect way can cause Text Neck. The correct way is much easier on your neck and helps to avoid Text Neck.

Tip 1: Move your phone up to meet your eyes.

Instead of bending your neck to look down at your phone, bring your phone up to your eye level. This will help you to maintain an aligned, tall posture.

Tip 2: Reverse your posture throughout the day using these 3 easy steps.

Demonstrates a simple exercise to help restore your natural posture and stop/prevent neck pain and Text Neck.
  1. Sit or stand up tall, with your shoulders back. Now gently tuck your chin back. Try holding it for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise throughout the day.
  2. Get up and move every hour!
  3. Stand in a doorway with your hands on the door frame and your elbows slightly below your shoulders. Next, push your chest forward and hold for 15-20 seconds. Do this four times. This simple stretch will open up the chest and shoulder muscles that tighten from slouching. If this position is uncomfortable, you can modify the stretch by lowering your hands.

Demonstrates a stretch that helps to open up the chest and shoulder muscles that tighten from slouching. Great to do if you're suffering from pain from Text Neck.

Most importantly,  be aware of how you’re holding your head throughout the day and stand tall!

Michael Siegenthaler, PT, DPT

Hensraj, Ken. “Assessment of Stresses About The Cervical Spine: Caused by Posture and Position of the Head.” New York Spine Surgery, 2014, www.realspinesurgery.com/text-neck/.

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