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By Dr. Rashad Sanford
Dr. Rashad Sanford

It’s the New Year. Gyms are overcrowded with people who have set ambitious physical goals. Vitamin stores are packed with those who have made New Year resolutions to absorb more nutrients. And the lines in health food stores are super long because everyone wants to start the year off right by eating super foods.

What if I told you that a major problem that 99.99 percent of people face can’t be fixed at the gym or the health food store. You can stop it by NOT leaning forward. That’s right! Don’t “lean in.” As most people are constantly on social media, and mobile apps, there’s an increase in “Text Neck.”

Young woman with dark curly hair hunches over her cellphone texting while leaning against a wall, purse under her arm and newspaper in her hand, in Paris, FranceSimon McGill / Moment Editorial/Getty Images

It’s been a growing problem for years, and considered a global health problem according to text-neck.com. It is the “harmful and dangerous physical condition of consistently looking down for long periods of time.” Over time it takes a huge toll on the body and your spine. This poor posture can cause severe wear and tear on your body and spine.

Smart phone users spend hundreds, some even thousands of hours in a hunched position as they text, compose emails, surf the Internet, or read articles from the comforts of their smart devices. My clients are suffering from neck pain, headaches, along with neck and shoulder muscles spasms.

Many individuals experience these symptoms because we are not designed to be in that improper position. Proper posture is the center of the ear over the top of the shoulder. Try it now as you read this article. Sit back and square your ears with your shoulders. The average head weighs approximately 10 pounds and your neck supports that weight. For every inch that your head is leaning forward due to gravitational forces, it’s an additional 10 pounds. If a person is texting and their head is leaning two inches forward, then that means that their neck is now supporting 30 pounds!

These problems do not include the unseen problems such as cervical (neck) degeneration and arthritis due to improper posture. Another issue which will likely begin to be more prevalent will be Hyper-kyphosis of the Cervical and Thoracic (Middle-back) spine – also known as being “hunchbacked.”

Text Neck is now considered the new arthritis.

Traditionally, arthritis develops in our late 40’s, however with these improper habits; I believe we will start to individuals with spinal arthritis in their late 20's and 30's.

As a corrective and preventative measure to “Text Neck”, I recommend holding your cell phone or tablet at eye level to maintain proper posture. This will help to avoid neck issues and headaches.

Here Are 6 Tips to Fight 'Text-Neck'

1. Maintain proper ergonomics in front of computer, in a car, while watching TV or on smart device/tablet. (In other words, do NOT lean your head forward for a sustained period of time while doing any of these activities)

2. Stretch your neck, lower back, hips, hamstrings and quad leg muscles daily. (Stretch a minimum of 10-15 min a day)

3. Sleep on your back or side.

4. Stay properly hydrated with water (1/2 your body weight in ounces a day)

5. Implement yoga into your lifestyle even if it's just for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week.

6. Make an appointment with your local chiropractor for a consultation and spinal adjustment.

Dr. Rashad Sanford works with a young patient.

Dr. Rashad Sanford is an Atlanta based Chiropractor, founder of Atlanta Spine Doctors. He holds a Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree from Life University.

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