smartphonelady

While there seems to be no end to the alarmist responses to new technology, it’s impossible to deny that, sometimes, there are actually some things that we really ought to be more concerned about.

Things like smartphone and internet use. And we’re not talking about internet addiction or antisocial behavior here, either. We’re talking about your neck.

Now, hunched shoulders and a drawn-in chin aren’t anything new for constant computer users.

▼”Whaaaat?”

geek pic

However, overuse of smartphones and other devices has resulted in “smartphone neck,” as it’s known here in Japan, becoming a widespread problem. We love and care about each and every one of our readers, so we want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourselves!

First, what is “smartphone neck?”

To answer that we need to take a brief look at your spine.

▼Note: This is not actually your spine. That would be weird.

spine

In the picture above, the left-hand illustration shows how the vertebrae in your neck SHOULD be aligned. The right-hand illustration, meanwhile, shows a person afflicted with “straight neck,” as smartphone neck was originally known. With a correctly-aligned neck, your head is upright and your neck is curved. With smartphone neck, that curve disappears and your head faces slightly downwards.

Smartphone neck can have a variety of effects on your health. The most obvious—and something that most people have probably experienced—is stiffness or pain in the shoulders. However, it can also make you feel nauseated or dizzy, cause numbness, and even disrupt your autonomic nervous system, in addition to negatively impacting your emotional health.

▼And it can lead to buying cacti!

computer

These symptoms could be caused by any number of things, so how can you tell if you have smartphone neck? The simplest way is to check how easy it is to tilt your head back so that you’re looking directly up. If you have trouble with this, you probably have smartphone neck.

What causes smartphone neck?

Well, your head is full of brain matter (hopefully) and lots of bone. That stuff is not light. The average adult head weighs between 4.5 and 5.5 kilograms (or, very roughly, 9.9 to 12 pounds). When you’re constantly looking at the latest cat memes on your smartphone, you’re putting a lot of strain on the muscles in your neck and warping the shape of your spine.

So, how can you save your neck?

The first thing is just trying to maintain good posture. Whenever you catch yourself slouching, sit up straight, shoulders back, and take a deep breath.

Another thing you can try, if you have an Android phone, is the Text Neck Indicator (smartphone neck is also called “text neck” in some places). This app will let you know when you’re holding your phone at an appropriate angle to avoid neck strain.

You can also try stretching. This is good for your health in general, so it’s something you should do anyway.

Finally, as it always is with health, reduce your stress. Time to go live in the woods!

▼Wait. Bears. That’s much more stressful than Angry Birds.

bear

If it becomes serious though, you might need to get surgery, see a chiropractor, or take muscle relaxers. Even with treatment, though, there’s no guarantee you’ll be “cured.” So, the best thing you can do is sit up straight. Looks like your mom was right!

Japanese netizens had a few thoughts on the matter:

I tried looking up to test my neck… and found the first cockroach of the year!

Isn’t it just evolution?

It’s the same posture as reading a book. I think they just wanted a shocking name to get more hits!

I was diagnosed with this eight years ago, so it’s got nothing to with smartphones for me!

Poop.

Call it whatever the heck you want, a hunchback is a hunchback.

I got straight neck… because I kept my head down to avoid dealing with other people.

There’s no pleasing some people, huh? Remember, kids: keep your head up and relax those shoulders!

References: Muemae Chiropractic Clinic, Straight Neck, Naver Matome, Jin115
Images: Futurity Straight Neck Wikipedia Muemae Chiropractic Clinic