SENDING a text message? It could be damaging your neck.
According to an international study published in PLOS One, smartphone users experience a heightened ergonomic risk and are experiencing neck pain earlier than previous generations.
‘Text neck,’ as it is colloquially called, places stress on the spine and alters the neck’s natural curve, increasing the likelihood of associated soft tissue discomfort. Young people are particularly at risk.
Rose Boucaut, a University of South Australia physiotherapist involved in the paper, says the awkward postures adopted by smartphone users can adversely affect the soft tissues.
“Smartphone users typically bend their neck slightly forward when reading and writing text messages. They also sometimes bend or twist their neck sideways and put their upper body and legs in awkward positions,” said Dr Boucaut.
“These postures put uneven pressure on the soft tissues around the spine, that can lead to discomfort.”
In a separate study published this month in the journal WORK, the same researchers also surveyed 779 Thai university students who use smartphones, with 32 per cent reporting neck pain, 26 per cent shoulder pain, 20 per cent upper back pain and 19 per cent wrist and hand pain.
Musculoskeletal disorders were more common among students with higher smartphone use (more than five hours a day) and those who smoked and did little exercise. Female smartphone users also experienced far more musculoskeletal disorders than men – 71 per cent compared to 28 per cent.
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