Text Neck is what you get when you hold your head tilted forwards and downwards a lot, for example when using your phone. It’s not actually new – it used to be called Seamstresses’ Hump because people who did a lot of hand sewing developed it. You can also get it from reading. There’s nothing new under the sun!
Why is Text Neck a problem?
Your head weighs around 12lbs, which is quite a lot when you think about it. It’s about the same weight as 15 large tins of baked beans, and if you were to hold that out at arms’ length you would soon be glad to put it down. The good news is that your neck muscles are specifically designed to hold 12lbs of weight up, which is why your head doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as it actually is.
If you tilt your head forward by 15 degrees (about as much as looking down at your laptop screen) the load on your neck muscles goes from 12lbs to 27lbs – over twice as much. By the time it’s tilted forwards as far as it will comfortably go, like the man in the picture, it’s weighing the equivalent of 60lbs. That’s more than 4 stone – the weight of an average eight- or nine-year-old child.
Let’s just stop and think about that for a moment. NINE years old. Your neck muscles are not designed to sustain that kind of weight for any length of time. If you’ve ever fallen asleep in a chair with your head unsupported you probably woke up with neck pain; that 60lb load is why.
The other things Text Neck do is put a pronounced curve in the top of your spine that isn’t supposed to be there, and pull your shoulders forward. Think about it next time you look at your phone; just how much have you moved your upper body? Your spine is designed to be broadly straight, with your head balanced nicely above your pelvis. If it’s curved forwards that will put additional load on the discs between your vertebrae (the bones in your spine) and on the muscles that hold your vertebrae together. Text Neck has been linked to headaches, back neck and shoulder pain, nerve damage, spinal disc herniation and compression, gastrointestinal problems, early onset arthritis, reduced lung capacity (up to 30%), breathing difficulties, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and jaw problems. None of these are fun to have. And we haven’t started talking about the carpal tunnel syndrome, ‘texters’ thumb’ or tennis elbow that you’ll develop from holding your phone or tablet, nor the bumps and trips you’ll experience from not looking where you’re going. Over time you will also develop an unattractive hump at the base of your neck.
But, you say, I’m only looking at a quick text. Surely that’s not a problem?
Well if you did just look at a quick text, that would be ok; but you don’t, do you? If you have an iPad the latest software update will have given you the facility to see how much time you spend on it per day. Have a look. The average for 7 out of 10 of us is over 3 hours a day. Would you like to have a nine-year-old hanging round your neck for 3 hours a day?
So now we know Text Neck is bad for us, but we’re all so addicted to our phones that it’s impossible for us to leave the house without them, and I’m as bad as anyone. So what to do? Obviously you can try to tilt your head forward less. Bowen can smooth out the unattractive hump, if you already have one, and release the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles so that they are less sore. So get yourself booked into Magic Hands to alleviate those nasty symptoms.
One final word. We’ve only been screen-dependent for about 10 years. At 3 hours a day that’s about 450 days, 24 hours a day – nearly 14 solid months. By the time your children are your age, how long will they have spent on their phones – and what will the impact be on their bodies?