Heads Up About Text Neck by Dr. Janna House

Heads Up About Text Neck by Dr. Janna House

Chiropractic London ON Text Neck

The Way I See It…

Just look at this photo I took while on a recent trip to Toronto. It seems that people everywhere have technology in hand – reading, texting, taking a selfie, hunting Pokemon, and the like. Look at those necks! This over-use of devices is putting undue stress on our spine and nervous system affecting the structure, function, and physiology of our bodies, and has been given its own name, Text Neck, iPosture or iHunch.

So what is Text Neck in London? It is defined as “overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a forward and downward position at any handheld mobile device, i.e., mobile phone, video game unit, computer, mp3 player, e-reader. This can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, breathing compromise, and much more. Synonym: forward head posture.” [1]

Chiropractic London ON Text Neck Pain

The Anatomy of Posture…

The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. When positioned and functioning properly, the spine is designed to resist the heaviest of loads. Take away the ideal position combined with repetitive static loads and the spine becomes weakened and subject to premature wearing, pain and stiffness. The compromised tissue structure over time will increase our susceptibility to sudden injury, sickness and eventually, disease.

  • Good posture is achieved when ears are aligned with the shoulders and shoulders retracted. With proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished. The neck supports the head while protecting the integrity of the spinal cord.
  • Poor posture occurs with the head in a tilted forward position and the shoulders drooped forward in a rounded position.
  • Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. The stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and could contribute to the possible need for surgery.

Physics of Text Neck…

By looking down at your phone or monitor, the amount of pressure on your neck multiplies. Hansraj (2015) evaluated the amount of pressure on the cervical (neck) spine when the neck is bent forward at varying degrees. [2]

  • 0° the weight of the head on the neck is 10 to 12 pounds.
  • 15° of bending increased weight on the neck by 27 pounds.
  • 30° increased the weight on the neck by 40 pounds.
  • 45° increased the weight on the neck by 49 pounds.
  • And 60° increased the weight on the neck by 60 pounds.

He also found that an average person spends 2 to 4 hours a day with their heads tilted forward for reading and texting on their smart phones, totaling 700 to 1400 hours of excess, abnormal cervical spine stress per year. It was also noted that a high school/college/university student may spend an extra 5000 hours in poor posture per year.

Effects of Text Neck…

Forward head posture is the reason behind many common symptoms that people experience on a daily basis, including:

  • Headaches [3]
  • neck pain [3]
  • shoulder pain [3]
  • digestive issues [3]
  • cardiovascular irregularities [3]
  • compromised respiratory function [4]

The Science of Good Posture…

Stresses on the spine from constantly looking down at a cell phone is very damaging to short and long term health.

A number of studies have evaluated forward head flexion stress on the human spine and corresponding body function. The findings were remarkable.

Good posture was associated with much more than just healthy backs or necks.

It was found to be associated with the following:

  • higher levels of testosterone [5][6]
  • increases in serotonin – the feel-good/happy hormones [7][8][9]
  • decreases in cortisol – the stress hormones [10]
  • increased feelings of power [11]
  • improved memory [12]
  • improved academic achievement [13]

What This Means to You…

It is in your best interest to prevent poor posture.

Quick tips to minimize the costly damages of text neck:

1. Get checked by your chiropractor and adjusted as needed.

Chiropractors are key leaders to improving quality and longevity of life in all men and women by improving the health and function through postural alignment.

2. Maintain proper posture while using technology.

Bring the screen to eye level so your head is not slouched forward or too high. Try this app, The Text Neck Indicator, on your smartphone, to help prevent Text Neck.[ http://text-neck.com/text-neck-indicator–a-mobile-app.html]

3. Limit use of technology, take frequent movement breaks.

4. Stand, stretch and move regularly.

5. Sit properly.

Watch this animation on how to sit with better posture.

6. Do regular spinal postural stretching and movement exercises.

1. Shoulder Blade Pinches:

While sitting or standing straight, pinch your shoulder blades together and back. You’ll feel the front of your shoulders roll back. Hold for a few seconds, release and repeat. Perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day.

2. Pec Stretch:

Stand in a doorway and place your forearms against the frame of the door, with your elbows at shoulder height. With one foot forward, draw your shoulder blades together on your back and gently lean into the door. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat once more. Perform this stretch three to four times a day.

3. Chin Tuck:

Sit up tall in a chair and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Without tilting your head in any direction, gently draw your head and chin back, like you’re making a double chin. Be careful not to jam your head back. You should feel a stretch along the back of the next. Release your chin forward. Repeat. You can perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day.


The next time you reach for your phone, remember that it promotes slouching, and slouching changes your mood, your memory, your behavior and the efficiency of your spine. So, get checked by your chiropractor, take tech breaks and engage in postural stretches and exercises.


[1] http://text-neck.com/definition-of-text-neck.html

[2] Hansraj, K.K. (2014) Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine caused by Posture and Position of the Head. Surgical Technology International, 25, 277-279.

[3] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/12/27/text-neck-posture.aspx

[4] Kapreli, E., Vourazanis, E., Billis, E., Oldham, J. and Strimpakos, N. (2009), Respiratory dysfunction in chronic neck pain patients. A pilot study. Cephalalgia, 29: 701–710. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2982.2008.01787.x

[5] http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/10/1363.abstract

[6] http://www.medicaldaily.com/better-posture-better-sex-life-lower-energy-levels-slouching-may-lead-low-sex-drive-304488

[7] https://biofeedbackhealth.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/a-published-increase-or-decrease-depression.pdf

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24577937

[9] https://biofeedbackhealth.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/the-effects-of-posture-on-mood.pdf

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25222091

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/fashion/amy-cuddy-takes-a-stand-TED-talk.html?_r=1

[12] http://www.medicaldaily.com/change-your-posture-improve-your-mood-memory-and-5-other-aspects-your-life-289724

[13] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18614694

[14] http://text-neck.com/text-neck-indicator–a-mobile-app.html

Dan Sullivan, The Chiropractic Advocate.


Infographic, courtesy of Dr. Potetti, Back in Shape Chiropractic, Gurnee, Il, http://backinshapechiro.com/healthy-living/text-neck-infographic/


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