As I type this I’m sitting, hunched over at my desk, staring at my phone researching what I’m about to tell you.
Turns out, this slouched over position I find myself in, and that I’m in constantly throughout the day, has now been proven to lead to degeneration of the spine and even surgery. You see, the human head weighs an average of 12 pounds and, when bent over looking at a phone at a sixty degree angle, that means a weight of sixty pounds is being exerted on your neck as the weight on the cervical spine increases when you look down.
If you are thinking that doesn’t sound very good, you’d be right.
Scientists are saying that this heavy weight being exerted on your spine daily can cause intense damage. According to The Washington Post, this poor posture caused by an epidemic people are calling “text neck” can hurt more than just your spine. “Experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. It has also been linked to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease,” the article states.
You can try looking at your phone or screen with only your eyes, but that probably will get strange after a few minutes. Or, move your computer monitor up higher, so it is at eye level, using a stand. Or, even better yet: You can get up and move around.
Backing away from your desk, putting down your phone, looking out the window, and best of all, walking or exercising, are all great solutions.
There’s even a way that you can walk at your desk, using a desk treadmill like UnSit’s WALK-1. You can keep up your fitness routine while working, and according to research from Stanford University, be more creative and productive, too. How’s this for a crazy stat: The Stanford study discovered that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.
By exercising as much as possible, even when at work – a place where you’re usually dormant and gazing at a screen – you can ward off text neck and the negative effects of sitting. (You’ve probably heard that “sitting is the new smoking.”)
Why does exercise fight text neck? Well, a person needs to have strong core muscles to support their upper body, including their neck. Core muscles usually do not get enough exercise during normal daily activities, so increasing your workout time can help with that. Also, strong and flexible muscles in the neck are needed to reduce pressure on your cervical spine and help support the heaviness of your head. The answer to building those muscles and improving your flexibility is simply to get off your phone and away from your desk and start exercising.
A treadmill desk can help, and UnSit’s WALK-1 is 50% wider than traditional treadmills, meaning you can actually focus on work, reach across your desk to grab your notes, without worrying that you’ll fall off a treadmill tightrope. The WALK-1 also takes up about 6 square feet less space and fits where your chair is now.
On top of that, there is even an app that is paired with the WALK-1, which tracks steps, distance, time, calories, standing time. The App automatically sends its data to Apple Health and/or to your FitBit account so you can see just how proactive you’re being in avoiding text neck.
Kate Durocher is a TV host, writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She is the Press Outreach Manager for Red Cup Agency and also works in editorial for L.A. Weekly. On the side, Kate is an entertainment host and has worked for outlets such as E! News and The Hollywood Reporter. Kate graduated from the University of Southern California in 2015 with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. See more of Kate’s work at www.lightscamerakate.com.