19, December 2011
Lately, a multitude of articles discussing a recently coined ailment affectionately referred to as “text neck” have been occupying a lot of space in my Google alerts. “Text neck” refers to head, neck and shoulder pain resulting from excessive mobile device usage. Evidently, the unnatural, hunched over position most of us adopt while using technology is not at all healthy for our spine.
Some experts are estimating that tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone are affected by some degree of text neck.
And, while it seems somewhat contradictory, one Florida chiropractor has even gone as far as to develop a mobile phone app that helps alert users of a posture problem while texting. Using the angle your phone is being held at as an indicator, a green light in the corner of the screen means proper posture, while a red light means the opposite.
Of course all of this raises a big question: is our addiction to technology bad for our health?
I know I am extremely guilty of phone lust, though I prefer the less accusatory description of myself as “tech savvy.” Between texting, checking work emails, updating my Facebook status, becoming a super mayor on Foursquare and tweeting things I find hilarious, my phone feels like it is part of me. I try to blame it on my career choice (Social Media Coordinator) but the truth is, I’m addicted – not to my phone (I hate every phone I try) but to the constant contact it gives me with my family, friends and outside universe.
But it makes sense that anything you spend a significant amount of time doing can be harmful if it puts your body in an unnatural position. Even something as seemingly harmless as sleeping, when improperly executed, can cause discomfort due to the fact that we spend so much of our lives doing it. If you sleep with an overly stuffed pillow, for example, you can force your spine out of alignment and put your neck in a position it’s not meant to be in. If done on a nightly basis, this will most likely lead to pain and even lasting injury.
The answer is not to give up on sleep or technology, but rather to be more aware that anything done repetitively has the potential to cause harm if we are not vigilant. I’m happy to report though, so far I’m “text-neck” injury free. But I do sleep on a Mediflow pillow (with my phone underneath it) every night, just in case.