14 Mar Text Neck
When you’re in a public place, look around: How many people are hunching over a phone? Technology is transforming how we hold ourselves, contorting our bodies and potentially ruining our health, not to mention how you look and what your body language is saying (to the world and to yourself).
Our modern lifestyles have made us reliant on computers, mobile phones, tablets and other devices. While they bring convenience to our lives, the bad news is that they are literally giving us a pain in the neck! When you misuse your neck, back and shoulders and fail to maintain a healthy posture, you may place strain on the spine. Misuse of technology, or any other activity that may cause you to look forward and downwards for long periods of time, are common causes of this strain.
The average adult head weighs approximately 4-5 kilos (about 10 pounds). When you tilt your head forward, (for example to text or type on the computer), the gravitational pull on your head is increased. If you do this for an extended period of time, it may lead to neck pain, back pain, muscle strain, nerve irritation, headaches, fatigue, irritability, and even difficulty in breathing; not to mention it’s not a good look! The medical term for this condition is Anterior Head Syndrome (commonly known as Text Neck).
It is the angle of the head and neck that cause this problem. When undertaking an activity such as texting, people may often bend their head and neck forward in a 60% angle from their spine. The extra force and weight that this angle puts on the lower neck may be equivalent to approximately one extra kilo (about two pounds) for each two millimeters of postural distortion. For many, it could easily be the equivalent of one to two times the weight of their head in extra load bearing and strain.
With technology set to take over our lives even more in the future, this problem isn’t going away. Being aware of the problem can help you minimize long term health issues. The ideal posture to maintain is one where your ears are aligned with your shoulders and your shoulders are back, similar to the position of the woman in the photo (with the green tick over her head).
The best solution is to be acutely aware of your posture when using technology or when doing activities that cause you to look forward and down for long periods of time. Also remember to take breaks, stand up, stretch (slowly and carefully) and change your posture regularly. For many, this cannot be achieved and maintained without some professional assistance. If you are already suffering from neck pain, back pain, muscle strain, nerve irritation, headaches, fatigue, irritability or difficulty in breathing, visit your Chiropractor who can help you understand and address the potential causes of these problems and outline a course of tailored supportive self-help strategies and care.
Body language affects how others see us, and it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
Dr. Ari Diskin is a US trained Healthy Life Doctor of Chiropractic, with over 30 years professional experience, having cared for over 10,000 people. He uses Network Care as part of his 3 Step Vitality Program, in Melbourne Australia. For more information www.DiskinLife.com.