Next time when you on the train, take a break from your mobile devices and look around. Won’t you agree that the image above looks all too familiar? Smartphones have become so interconnected with our lives that most of us cannot even live without it for more than a minute. It has become so much of a necessity to entertain ourselves or keep ourselves occupied with something.Oh yes, communication as well! Students and office-goers are always on WhatsApp or Email,texting someone or squeezing out a work-related email. And then there is Instagram and Facebook. The list simply does not end! It is not surprising that with the increase in usage, the user would hunched over a mobile device, leading to poor posture. Are you one of them? If so, you may have ‘Texter’s Neck’.
‘Texter’s Neck’ (also known as anterior head syndrome) describes the position your neck is in when you are looking down at your phone. Flexing your head forward for long periods of time will affect your posture and can cause cervical spinal degeneration.Look at the image above. When your head is in the normal posture, the ears and the neck are aligned and are on the same plane. This evenly distributes the forces through the natural curvature of the spine. The normal head measures approximately 4 to 5kg when held in the correct posture. As the head moves forward in position, the pressure on the neck can increase by many folds. It is observed that texters usually hold their heads at a 40-60 degree angle and this means that their neck is experiencing stress equivalent to a 7 year old child sitting on their neck for 2 hours everyday! Hard to believe? Try this simple test. With your forearm in a vertical position, hold your smartphone vertically by using just your thumb and index finger to grip it on its edges. Now, slowly bend your wrist such that your phone is now in a horizontal position, without adjusting your grip. Feel the added strain on your wrist? That’s exactly what your neck is going through every time your head is bent forward.
If left untreated, permanent damage can happen to the spine, its discs, the neck muscles and nerves. Early onset of arthritis is also possible.
There might be a gradual onset of symptoms like:
Firstly, hold your device up to your face rather than bringing your face to the device. Also, try to spend less time on your device and take regular breaks. There are also some simple neck exercises that you can do to relieve the neck stiffness and maintain the cervical spine mobility.
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