Some of today’s most popular presents are smartphones. Thousands of these useful electro
nic tools were bestowed upon a loved one during the past couple of holidays. Everybody needs them, and people’s lives seem to be dependent on the permanent companion ultimately attached to the human body somehow: no matter whether in a pocket, a hand bag, or firmly attached to someone’s head by skilled balancing the phone between a shoulder and an ear. The latter seems to rather quickly affect the well-being of the phone’s user, because after a while, it can get very uncomfortable and quite often the user’s ear will not o
nly start getting warm but also the neck begins to hurt. While the alleged glowing ear may not immediately be the co
ncern of a spine specialist, another effect of heavy smartphone usage definitely is: text neck!
Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and possible damage sustained from co
nstantly looking down at a mobile phone, tablet, or other wireless devices for an extended period of time. The physical reason for the effect can be explained quickly: The human head can easily weigh 5kg. o
nce the head is bent forward to look down on an electro
nic device’s screen, quite often at up to a 60° angle, the neck muscles have to pull 5 times as much and thus, the physical leverage and gravity may increase the head’s force on the neck muscles to 25+ kilograms. Our body’s shoulder and neck muscles have to deal with that increased weight burden, as a result of this uncomfortable position of the head. The known long-term co
nsequences may include neck discomfort, neck pain, stiffness and headaches which may get worse over time.
This is why Professor Margareta Nordin, EUROSPINE President, recommends to take frequent breaks from mobile devices throughout the day, in order to relieve the head by craning one's neck and co
nsciously resting the head. Professor Thomas Blattert, Secretary of EUROSPINE adds: “symptoms of text neck must be closely observed as they become more and more relevant, because text neck predominantly affects the younger, otherwise healthy generation”. Thus, EUROSPINE endorses regularly exercising the neck muscles with the intent to strengthen and co
nsequently relax the neck and back muscles!