Texting ruins students’ posture

Junior Libby Lazzara sends a text while standing in the hall. Texting threatens students’ posture, according to several studies.

Most people do it all the time. Most people know others who do it all the time. It’s an obsession with which they’re stuck; it’s on everyday display at Lincoln.

This issue wasn’t even around before 1992.

Indeed, texting is a modern phenomenon. Most people would agree that it has become a life necessity, with 73 percent of Americans reporting they communicate via text, the Pew Research Center reports.

Nevertheless, few understand the potential dangers of  texts. In addition to users becoming disconnected from their environment and possibly suffering car crashes, according to Spine Health, a website devoted to spine related issues, doctors have seen significant premature deterioration of the spine for patients who are decades younger than traditional spine  patients. Normally, those who suffer spinal degeneration tend to be of the oldest age group.

Spines are still developing for adolescents, putting them at special risk of texting-related spine problems. Texting is understood to increase the probabilities of bone spurs and arthritic spinal changes.

According to WebMD, the head weighs 10 to 12 pounds while in a neutral position. It increases to 27 pounds when 15 degrees forward. When the head descends to 60 degrees, common for texters, that weight becomes 60 pounds.  

These problems may appear minor to some, but they are worsening the posture of many adolescents. In fact, Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractor in Florida, coined the term “text neck” in 2008 to describe this dilemma.

Many who suffer “text neck” experience symptoms of shoulder pain and agony in the upper back. Victims may also undergo neurological problems, because the spinal cord links to the brain stem which regulates the movement of messages between the brain and the rest of the body in addition to blood pressure and heart rate.

Most importantly, neck problems ultimately lead to poor posture. Posture problems are linked to a 30 percent decreased lung capacity, the Washington Post says. Victims are more likely to suffer depression, headaches and heart disease, as well.

“The majority of Lincoln students are affected,” says health teacher Dr. Timm Goldhammer. “Students are under a lot of stress already and are not willing to put time into exercises” to alleviate the symptoms of text neck.

He suggests several simple neck and shoulder exercises: “Tuck the chin down toward the neck and slowly raise it up toward the ceiling, or rotate the head so that it is looking over one shoulder, then turn slowly the other direction.” Yoga and pilates can also help.

Even better is to get at the root of the problem itself, he says. Phone users can hold their device at eye level to avoid chin tilting, or put their phone down for a while. Always practice good posture, he adds.