We encounter people each and everyday using their smart phones, looking down, neck strained and their complete focus is towards the phone in their lap or at waist level. What these people are not thinking about it the daily stress this type of posture does to their necks and shoulders. As a licensed physical therapist, I see ‘text neck’ health issues in children as young as 10 years old. Screen time, studying for school, social media and more has wreaked havoc on the bodies of young and old alike.

The way to change this issue is to be mindful of your posture when using smart phones, tablets and computers. Using a laptop in bed or on a sofa is poor way to keep the body properly aligned. The ease of having a laptop is so you can take it anywhere, but if you use it in positions where your neck and back are stooped over or not upright, you may experience stiffness, wear and tear and possible degeneration of your spine.

This is not a new phenomenon in health, but is is a serious health issue for anyone using their devices hours at a time. ‘Text neck’ is way more profound in younger patients as they tend to be excessive with the amount of time they spend with their smart phones in the age of social media. Poor smart phone posture may cause muscle strain, inflammation, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over a longer period of time remove the neck’s natural curve.

While I understand it is impossible to avoid technology, it is clear we need to set higher standards for ourselves and our children when using their phones and laptops. Start by only looking down at your device with your eyes and not bending your neck. Take breaks and exercise your neck by moving it side to side and stretching occasionally if you need to be on your computer or using your phone for a longer period of time. The key is to keep your neck straight and try to use your eyes instead. Your neck and shoulders will not experience the stress caused by having a bent neck or curved spine.

If you find you have a lot of tension in your neck or shoulders, you may need the assistance of physical therapy or a pilates session to strengthen and improve your alignment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my smart phone and use it daily. Just try to be aware of and focus on your posture, the amount of time you spend using your devices, keeping your neck straight and using your eyes instead of your whole upper body.

Cheers to your Health!