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Posted by on May 15, 2015

The Shape of Things to Come: Text Neck and Yoga Therapeutics

Did you happen the see the cover of the New Yorker the last week of February? It features the caricature of a tall guy in a jaunty pork-pie hat slouching his long upper torso over his smartphone. The curve in this character’s spine is so impossibly rounded, it’s almost a U-turn.

One of the big articles in that edition is entitled The Shape of Things to Come. The article is about the designers at Apple, but we are pretty sure the image is about the future of your neck and shoulders if you keep palm reading from your smartphone as you do.

Rounding the spine and turtle-necking your head forward to respond to the latest chimed text on your iPhone might be immediately rewarding if you are receiving a love note. The titillation of constant contact is a wonderful thing, indeed. Rumi even wrote about it in the 13th Century! But our favorite mystic was probably looking up to the heavens rather than down into his palm.

These days, the repeated bad posture inspired by our love affair with the smartphone has a name: Text Neck. Even as you bend over your phone right now, you’ll find dozens of articles warning against this new postural epidemic. Go ahead, do a Google search. I just did and found more than 100 million results. A recent article in the Washing Post warns about Text Neck this way:

The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

You can read the full article here.

I imagine that Steve Jobs never intended any of us harm, but in this case too much of a good thing is not as wonderful as Mae West said it could be. (My favorite quote of hers is “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”) We love to feel connected. We also need to protect ourselves. The spine, especially the cervical spine, is made vulnerable by our insatiable but slouching appetite for textual contact. The Washington Post article suggests that Text Neck is “a risk for some 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones.”

You don’t have to be part of the 58 percent! Check out Meg’s Yoga Therapeutics: Release the Upper Back and Chest. With a little mindfulness and a little focused yoga, you’ll be able to save your neck for more of the wonderful things Mae West had in mind.