We’ve all been there.
It’s lunchtime, you pull out your phone, you check your messages, you scroll through
your socials, you see that your lunch break is somehow over already, you put down your
phone, you look up–
And just like that, you’ve fallen victim to text neck, an injury brought about by flexing
your neck forward to look down at your phone.
Phone neck doesn’t usually happen with other looking-down activities, such as reading
books or doing dishes. That’s because you usually interrupt those activities–you might
put down the book to reflect, or pause to gather more dishes to wash. Gazing at phones,
though, is an “activity” that we can do for hours at a time.
The reason why looking down is so harmful is due to basic physics. Your head is about
the weight of a bowling ball, around 10 pounds. Consider how challenging it would be to
hold a bowling ball with both hands straight over your head–no biggie, right? Now
imagine holding that ball straight out in front of you. You’d last a minute, maybe two at
best, and that’s with using muscles that are much bigger than those little ones that
attach to your neck. The frightening fact is that for every 10 degrees that you flex your
neck forward, you’re effectively adding another 10 pounds–a whole entire head!–to your
neck’s workload. (1)
Don’t ignore text neck. If you keep hunching over your phone, day in and day out, some
research (2) indicates that you could develop a more serious condition, such as neck
arthritis, devastating headaches, or thoracic outlet syndrome, which could make your
hands tingle or even go numb. Phone neck can even spread down to your low back,
You can’t possibly survive without looking at your phone, so how can you stave off text
neck? Try holding your phone up to your face instead of looking down at it, which might
be easier if you can lie down. Take frequent breaks:
● Look up as high as you can, then jut out your chin to really stretch the tight
muscles of the throat.
● Perform some basic upper-postural exercises, such as Brugger’s or, if you’re
feeling particularly ambitious, wall angels. Don’t skip the all-important chin tuck!
● Invest in your postural health with Cornerstone’s Foundational Fitness program.
1 David D, Giannini C, Chiarelli F, Mohn A. Text Neck Syndrome in Children and
Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(4):1565. Published 2021
Feb 7. doi:10.3390/ijerph18041565
2 Toh SH, Coenen P, Howie EK, Straker LM. The associations of mobile touch
screen device use with musculoskeletal symptoms and exposures: A systematic
review. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181220. Published 2017 Aug 7.