Like most of us, you probably spend a lot of time each day staring at your smartphone.
The average university student, for example, sends and receives 128 texts per day.
That's 3,853 texts every month! The same study reports that adults under the age of 45 average more than 85 texts per day.
While we love having the world at our fingertips, spending too much time on our phones can harm our health.
Read on to learn more about why texting causes neck pain -- and how you can prevent it.
Why Does Texting Cause Neck Pain?
A new phenomenon in the medical world is something doctors are calling "text neck."
This is a type of repetitive strain injury caused by hunching over cell phones.
When you look down for long periods of time, your shoulders round and your head drops forward.
This changes the natural curve of your neck.
Over time, this misalignment can cause muscle strain and lead to pain in your neck.
Your head naturally places 10 to 12 pounds of pressure your neck.
When you drop your chin to look at your phone, this position places as much as 60 pounds of pressure on your neck muscles.
Tips to Prevent Neck Pain
Since we all need our phones, what precautions can we take to avoid injury?
Here are four tips for preventing pain in your neck and shoulders.
1. Take Frequent Breaks
It's easy to fall into the habit of staring at your phone for long periods of time.
One of the easiest ways to reduce pain is to simply take breaks from the screen.
Every five minutes, lift your head and focus something across the room.
Not only will this prevent pain in your neck, but it will also reduce eye strain and headaches.
2. Raise Your Phone
Another easy tip for lessening pain is to hold your phone at eye level.
If this isn't possible, hold it high enough so that you can lift your chin and lower your eyes to see the screen.
3. Sit Up Straighter
Staring down at your phone doesn't only affect your neck.
It also causes your back and shoulders to round and results in poor posture.
While you're texting, make a conscious effort to sit up straight and push your shoulders back.
4. Stretch Your Neck
If you start to feel stiff at work, try these simple stretches to keep your neck and shoulders loose.
Start by arching your back to improve your posture.
Lift your chin and pull your shoulders back so they're aligned under your ears.
Next, do some side bending.
Tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear as close as possible to your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the left.
Stretch the lateral muscles in your neck with side-to-side rotation.
Turn your head as if to look over your shoulder and hold for 20 seconds.
Repeat on the other side.
If it's comfortable for you, you could also tilt your head back and gaze at the ceiling.
This stretches the muscles in the front of your neck.
With a little bit of conscious effort, you can start some good smartphone habits to reduce or eliminate neck pain.
Is part of your neck pain caused by on-the-job stress?
Be sure to check out our recent post about reducing occupational stress.