Bupa physio warns 'text neck' could cause lasting damage


A Bupa physiotherapist has warned mobile phone addiction could be causing people lasting damage, and explains how poor tech posture can be like having an 8 year old child sitting on your neck. 

Many of us can’t imagine life without our smart phones, but our constant scrolling could have lasting health effects. The term ‘text neck’, also refered to as 'tech neck', is now being used to describe pain symptoms caused by the excessive use of mobile phones and other handheld devices. For teenagers, whose spines are still changing as they grow, the risk of lasting damage is amplified.

Ryan Ebert, a trained physiotherapist and Business Manager for Bupa Therapy, explains how looking down at our phones all day leads to neck pain.

Ryan Ebert, Business Manager, Bupa Therapy
The problem comes from tilting our heads down to look at our phones. The weight of your head puts a small amount of pressure on your shoulders, and this pressure increases the further we tilt our heads forward. Over an extended period, this causes the pain symptoms referred to as tech neck.
Ryan Ebert, Business Manager, Bupa Therapy

Standing up straight and looking forward, the weight of our head will equate to roughly 5kgs of pressure and bending your neck just 15 degrees doubles this. At a 60-degree tilt, the pressure can be as much as 27kg. That’s about the same as having an eight-year-old child sit on your neck.

Cardiovascular health can also be affected. Your lungs compress as your head tilts forward, changing the amount of air being inhaled and exhaled.

Ryan Ebert, Business Manager, Bupa Therapy
When combined with sitting for extended periods, the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal effects of prolonged mobile phone use have the very real potential to cause lasting damage.
Ryan Ebert, Business Manager, Bupa Therapy

Ryan’s top tips for avoiding text neck

  1. First of all, don’t text as much! Use your phone as it was originally intended and call people to talk to them whenever possible instead of texting.
  2. If you do need to text, consider sitting down and putting your elbows on a desk, holding the phone in front of your face so you are looking straight ahead and not increasing the pressure on your neck by tilting your head forward.
  3. Consider doing regular neck and shoulder exercises, especially if you are sitting down for an extended period of time.
  4. Try neck extensions every couple of hours. Bend you head back and hold briefly, then bring your head forward to an upright position and repeat.
  5. Every hour or so, stretch your chest by rolling your shoulders backwards and forwards in a circular movement, eight to ten times.
  6. Consider your general posture. When walking or standing, keep a straight back with your shoulders square and back, keep your head level and have most of your weight on the balls of your feet.
  7. If you do experience neck soreness, try taking a hot shower as a starting point, and then put a heat pack across your shoulders for roughly 20 minutes at a time.
  8. If you continue to experience neck pain, see a healthcare professional.

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