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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 11, 2017
Fall Health

‘Text neck’ is not something to ignore

Sep 21, 2017

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Dr. Brent Lindbert at Ottawa Chiropractor Clinic cringes to see people on their cellphones, hunching their shoulders and craning their necks toward their lap. “Think about their future,” he said.

This is the posture chiropractors and orthopedic doctors have dubbed “text neck,” the overuse of handheld mobile technology which results in painful and potentially permanent alteration of the body.

“The nice thing about being young is you’re so resilient,” Lindbert said. “You don’t notice the problem yet.”

Bringing the weight of the head forward causes strain on your neck and shoulder muscles and can eventually change the natural curvature of your neck. The head weighs 10 to 12 pounds; however, leaning the head forward at just a 15-degree angle can increase the weight to more like 27 pounds. This weight only increases as the degree of tilt increases.

“It can be such a large percentage of their waking time that it begins to feel normal,” Lindbert said about how people adjust to improper posture. “When they straighten up, it can feel abnormal or even uncomfortable.”

There’s even an institute dedicated to preventing this problem from laying undetected until it’s too late. The Text Neck Institute claims this is a worldwide health concern, affecting millions from all generations. A visible side effect of text neck is a backward curve in the spine instead of the normal forward curve.

A testimonial on their page thanks the institute for bringing attention to this problem.

“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the Text Neck study,” Jenny O., of Plantation, Fl., said. “This significant intervention was life changing, and I will continue with my care plan and stay vigilant of my posture while using electronics. I have even decreased my amount of texting in hopes to further prevent Text Neck.”

Lindbert tells his patients who work at a desk for long hours to imagine their head is attached to a string on the ceiling and to pull themselves up from that once an hour. He gives the same advice to people looking down at their phones.

The Text Neck Institute even has a mobile app to help people pay attention to their posture. The Text Neck Indicator alerts users with a green light in the top corner of their phone when their phone is being held at an acceptable angle for viewing. It alerts users with a red light, vibration or beep notification when the phone is being held at an unacceptable angle for viewing.

“(Younger people) see themselves as indestructible,” Lindbert said. “It will show up years later.”

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