Everyone texts nowadays. Many use it as their sole source of communication. We’ve all watched the online videos of people who, while walking down the sidewalk, are distracted by a mobile device and are texting as they go. While we laugh at the videos of them falling into water or walking into doors, we need to be aware that too much texting can be hazardous to your health.
“Text head” is back or neck pain caused by looking down at a mobile device for extended periods of time. Looking down at a phone puts a lot of extra strain on the spine. The head is heavier than it looks, and by looking down at a phone or tablet, the muscles in the neck and back are under a lot of strain that eventually can culminate in pain in the neck or in headaches. Symptoms of text head include:
-Sudden or chronic pain in the upper back
-Pain or tightness towards the front of the shoulders
-Pain associated with a pinched cervical nerve
Aside from a stiff neck, walking and texting has other risks. Scientists have noticed an increasing trend in pedestrian accidents in recent years. This increase is a result of using a mobile device while walking. In a 2014 press release, Dr. Dietrich Jehle had this to say about texting and walking.
“When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking. While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.” Dr. Dietrich Jehle
Texting is more distracting than listening to music or talking on the phone. People who text while walking are not paying close attention to fellow pedestrians and traffic. They are focused on their text message. A texting pedestrian is more likely to cause an accident than a non-texting walker. Being aware of your surroundings is a key factor to staying safe.
The standard mobile device posture looks a bit like this: chin tucked in, rounded shoulders, and a slumped upper back. Prolonged rounding of the back will lead to more rounding of the back. What this means is that the more you slouch, the easier it becomes. Bad posture leads to worse posture. The physical curving of the back (kyphosis) weakens the postural muscles and elongates them. In addition, rounding the shoulders forwards leads to tight muscles in the chest and shoulders. When put together, these two symptoms are a breeding ground for poor posture.
Texting can cause some serious pain. Take breaks when your back and neck start to feel fatigued and try not to text and walk. If you absolutely have to text while walking, step away from the main flow of pedestrian traffic. For relief from the aches and pains of text head, contact Sideline Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at (540) 552-7133 and we’ll help you stand taller.