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Are You Suffering From Text Neck?

The ability to text and email on the move is convenient, but what price are you paying for having the latest technology at your fingertips?
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Is your smart phone secretly damaging your spine? Recent research suggests that this is in fact the case. Text neck is affecting more and more people (especially teens), causing a multitude of problems including neck pain caused by adopting a posture that in turn removes the neck's natural curvature. So what exactly is text neck and what can you do to prevent it?

Text neck is quite literally a pain in neck resulting from spending long periods of time looking down at your smart phone or tablet. As a freelance writer and social media manager, I often worry about the negative affects that my job could be having on my mind and body not to mention my waistline. The long hours spent sitting at my desk ensures that my activity levels are sedentary at best. When I'm not writing and editing articles I'm on Twitter researching or promoting them which means I'm also at risk of what is known as text neck.

You can't ride on a bus or sit on the tube or quite frankly spend time in any public space these days without noticing that 90 percent of the people around you adopt this position. Eyes drawn down, neck bent at a 40-degree angle and shoulders rounded staring intently at a mobile phone. You're probably reading this article in this exact position. I am guilty of this myself and when I'm not looking down at my mobile phone, I'm hunched over my laptop and I often wonder about the damage this activity could be having on my posture.

As a young child my hobbies varied from horse riding to gymnastics, which not only kept me active but also helped me to achieve great posture that stayed with me over my teenage years. It is no coincidence that as my hobbies turned to browsing social media sites in my spare time that my posture has taken a turn for the worse.

Whether you are replying to texts in your WhatsApp group with your 43rd message or searching for the perfect emoji for that all-important tweet, you've probably wondered if you spend too much time on your mobile phone.

I wasn't surprised when I read that according to this Deloitte consumer survey that 53 percent of smart phone users check their phones within five minutes of waking up. This shows that people don't just spend hours each day bent over their smart phones or tablets putting the cervical spine under extreme stress but it is often the first thing they do on a morning.

As a blogger, I know how addictive social media sites can be. It is easy to post a simple tweet only to look up three hours later and realize that time has escaped you. Assuming this posture regularly can have dramatic effects on the alignment of your spine. The weight of the human head increases when it is at a 40-degree or more angle and it is then that it starts to become a burden to your spine.

So, it's all well and fine being aware of the dangers of text neck but what can you do to prevent it? What if, like me, looking down at a laptop or scheduling tweets for a client is your job? Luckily, there are things that can be done to alleviate the effects of text neck.

New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy Centre have identified that lack of ergonomic consideration for your workspace is a key factor in neck pain and changing the placement of your technology can reduce pain and injury. Something as simple as moving your laptop or mobile phone to your eye level and breaking up the time spent on these devices with healthy activities and taking regular breaks from sitting at your desk can reduce the chances of damaging your spine.

Following ergonomic workstation guidelines can help those who work at a desk for long periods of time to create a comfortable workspace by simply adjusting the height of your chair, investing in a footstool or moving your technology around.

There is a way to look after your spine without giving up your love of technology wherever you are. When you are looking at your phone on public transport or when you are out and about, use your eyes to look down at your smart phone rather than craning your neck to read what's on the screen. Regular stretches can also help to make you more aware of your posture.

The ability to text and email on the move is convenient, but what price are you paying for having the latest technology at your fingertips?