If you haven't heard about text neck, it's a new syndrome that Kenneth Hansard, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, calls an "epidemic." The Washington Post writes:
The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day... Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.
Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day. Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. And high-schoolers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position, Hansraj said.
How much time do you spend staring at that cell phone or tablet? The latest studies say that, on average, Americans look at their mobile devices 162 minutes every day. Just like sitting too much, staring down at our devices too much can be detrimental.
A few years ago, I totally unplugged on vacation; not only did I give my neck a break, but I also was looking up and enjoying the view instead of reading rants on Facebook or perusing e-mail. IT WAS AWESOME.
So, try small changes in your routine... If you normally look at a device during dinner, try looking at the person you're dining with instead. If you spend hours on the weekend playing the newest game that all your friends on social media are insisting you play, set a timer for 15 minutes and do some stretches before crushing the rest of that candy!