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Text neck: what your phone is doing to your spine

You see it everywhere… people walking on the streets with their heads bent over their phones, sitting slumped on the train, in the restaurant, at their jobs. They’re texting, reading emails and articles and typing on their smartphones. But with heads flexed, shoulders rounded and backs hunched for long periods of time, their necks take a toll.

“Text neck is a condition gaining popularity as more people are spending hours each day looking down at their phone or other devices,” says Kenneth K. Hansraj, M.D., a spinal and orthopedic surgeon and author of Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine.

Irreversible risks

Worse, constant stress on the back of the neck can lead to degenerative disk disease, which can be irreversible. Plus, bone spurs can grow and people can get pinched nerves or herniated disks, which cause intense pain. And if neck pain wasn’t bad enough, those who spend a lot of time looking down at their devices can also develop wrinkles near the neck and chin, a condition previously referred to as “Blackberry neck”.

Tips to avoid ‘text neck’

Hold your phone at just below eye-level and use your index finger to text — not both of your thumbs. “This reduces strain on the neck muscles and shoulders and prevents over use of the thumb joint,” says Geeta G. Singh, MSPT, a physical therapist at Integrated Physical Therapy, Inc., in Laguna Beach, California.

“Sit up straight with your head in a neutral position (ears over your shoulders), good posture and your feet planted flat on the ground while using the phone,” says Dr Chris Tomshack, CEO and founder of HealthSource Chiropractic.

Wear a headset so you’re not looking down at your cellphone.

Every 20 minutes stand up, roll your shoulders back and walk around so you’re not stuck in one position.

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