Is Texting Hurting Your Neck?

On average, how many minutes a day do you think you spend on your smartphone texting, checking your email, playing games, or searching one of your many downloaded apps? Ten? Twenty? Sixty? More?

A recent study from the Journal of Behavioral Addictions that has found that young woman typically spend 10 hours daily engaged with their cell phones. No, that isn't a typo. They spend roughly ten hours.

Whether you're spending this much time texting or conducting any other business on your phone or not, the impact on your neck after even a few minutes can cause you a tremendous amount of issues. Issues that you feel today, as well as years down the road.

The Effects of Texting on Your Neck

Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, the Chief of Spine Surgery with New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, has studied this effect and found that the force of having your head tilted forward for long periods of time has damaging results on the cervical area of your spine (your neck region). And the more your head is tilted forward, the greater the effects.

A human head weighs somewhere around 11 pounds. Therefore, when you are standing or sitting with good posture (which is defined as head sitting squarely on your shoulders with your shoulders down and back), there is around 11 pounds of force straight downward on your cervical spine.

Now, if you lean forward just slightly, creating a 15 degree angle in your neck, that amount of pressure more than doubles, increasing to 27 pounds. In essence, it is like your head now weighs 27 pounds which, as you can imagine, would put an extreme amount of pressure on your neck while trying to hold it up.

Bend your head forward a little more and it gets even worse. For instance, Dr. Hansraj found that a 30 degree forward tilt raises the pressure to roughly 40 pounds, and a 45 degree bend means that your neck is trying to deal with just under 50 pounds of pressure. No wonder your neck hurts!

Texting and neck pain

Being aware of this fact is the first step to correcting the issue. The second step involves spending less time on your smartphone, and raising it to eye level when you do need to access it. Of course, regular chiropractic adjustments can help put your neck back in place too, but remember that it is always better and easier to prevent an issue than it is to treat it.

Roberts JA, Yaya LHP, Manolis C. The invisible addiction: cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students. Journal of Behavioral Addiction 2014;

Hansraj, KK. Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surgical Technology International, 25; 277-279. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2014; 1 (-1): 1 DOI: 10.1556/JBA.3.2014.015